61 thoughts on “Our Daily Thread 12-27-18

  1. Aj must have put this up before going to bed last night.
    Aj sleeps in on Thursdays.
    Good Thursday morning everyone.
    Only 362 shopping days ’til Christmas.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Janice, if your husband attends a (United?) Methodist church with a woman pastor, you’re probably better off where you are. My two friends in Nashville who attended my church with their husbands attending elsewhere, the husbands attended United Methodist churches, and the women had a hard time attending “churches” that didn’t preach the gospel, and that could be really liberal if the church happened to be assigned a really liberal “pastor.”

    One had gone to the other church with her husband and their young adults, and her husband had gone to the UM church all his life. He told her to leave and find a new church, and when she found one, he would follow. He never followed, though he gave her blessing to staying–and she often regretted that she didn’t tell hm, “No, let’s leave together and find a new church.” He did like our church, and would attend picnics and occasional services, and he liked our pastor. He simply had family connections and history at the church where he was.

    The other couple attended our church together; they were there when I got there. At some point he decided to leave, and they left together (sorrowfully for her). He had decided he could have a “ministry” by speaking truth at the local UM church, so they went there for a while. But she said he was never happy at any one church very long, and after a year or two they were leaving that one for another UM church. She sought his permission for herself to come back to our church, and that is what happened.

    I personally wouldn’t leave a church to find one with a youth group, since I don’t think youth groups are necessary for a teen’s spiritual growth and they can even be destructive or harmful to it. But leaving a “church” that doesn’t preach the gospel, and that (contrary to Scripture) assigns women pastors at will, I definitely would want to leave there. But I would want my husband to leave with me, and in fact would hope he would be the one making the decision to leave. (My sister’s husband took them out of his own lifelong church, leaving his parents and grandparents behind, once he realized it wasn’t really a very good church theologically.)

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Here are a few thoughts I had this morning regarding yesterday’s discussion about singing in church.

    Contemporary or traditional worship: It doesn’t matter. Jesus said in John 4 that those who worship God must do it in “Spirit and in truth”.

    Spirit: where is you heart? Are you there for God’s glory or your own motives? Does the music give you a thrill or do the words speak to your heart?

    Truth: Are the lyrics in line with Scriptural truth? Does the doctrine presented agree with what the Bible says? There are a lot of unscriptural ideas in hymn books, even in the best ones.

    Spirit and truth: Do the songs we sing glorify the One whom we worship? Is our flesh more pleased than our soul? Is the music leader putting on a show to draw attention to him/herself or is he/she directing your thoughts to Jesus alone?

    Psalm 34:1-3 (NKJV)

    I will bless the Lord at all times;
    His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
    My soul shall make its boast in the Lord;
    The humble shall hear of it and be glad.
    Oh, magnify the Lord with me,
    And let us exalt His name together.

    Liked by 8 people

  4. BTW- I remember singing those verses (along with verse 4) as a Scripture chorus back in the 70s at a Charismatic church I attended. A woman there was blessed with a talent to put the Bible (mostly Psalms) to music. I still sing those choruses when I read the passage.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. morning, all. My luggage is already looking full and I haven’t finished shopping. I told one granddaughter that I loved the angel that she made me, but it would remain here. off to the eye doctor this morning.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Singing: it occurred to me that many of the major singers got a start in church. Almost as if God loves to hear His praises sung and placed beautiful voices there. Sadly, as with so many gifts, they can be corrupted and move into some pretty rugged messages. Some stay true and sing His praises even in the secular world. Others allow the secular to take over their message. We should be praying for the singers as we appreciate their gift from the Giver of all good things.

    Liked by 5 people

  7. The whole discussion surrounding worship isn’t really about style at all — it’s about substance. But style often reflects substance (or the lack thereof).

    More contemporary formats that jettison elements including theologically sound hymns in favor of thinner (but hipper) music (and sermons) quickly run into “substance” problems.

    The Methodist churches I’m familiar with here emphasize the social gospel. I’ve known some female pastors who are more gospel-centered and theologically sound, paying more attention to Scripture, than male Methodist preachers I’ve met and interviewed. So one could do worse than a female pastor in that setting. That said, I’d agree the denomination itself is quite liberal (where I live) and it could be in line to take steps toward affirming same-sex marriage as early as next year.

    As with most mainline denominations, the members in the pews are typically more conservative than the denomination’s leadership and some individual congregations are more evangelical than others, depending on region and other factors. So one can be in a fairly faithful home church within the denomination that is much more liberal. But that also creates a standing tension that seems likely to suggest a future split.

    https://www.charlotteobserver.com/living/religion/article211255484.html

    May 2018

    __________________________________

    Will views on same-sex marriage split one of America’s largest Protestant religions?

    Just how divided is the United Methodist Church?

    Many of its 12 million members are engaged in an internal battle that could break up America’s second largest Protestant denomination.

    At issue: Whether or not to change its rules to allow same-sex weddings and LGBTQ clergy.

    Charlotte pastors, along with their flocks, are taking sides. …

    … Though Methodists are still at odds on LGBTQ issues, there’s a sense that some action may finally be on the horizon.

    “It’s time,” said Pastor Rosenquist of First United Methodist.

    Other mainline Protestant denominations have also had long histories of jousting on the issue. But The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America — two of the biggest — have at least opened the door in recent years to same-sex marriage and LGBTQ clergy.

    … many conservative Presbyterian and Lutheran congregations left their mainline denominations to protest the change and joined other denominations that do not marry same-sex partners or ordain gays and lesbians.

    The same thing could happen with the United Methodist Church if conservatives lose. But with many traditionalist delegates from Africa and the South opposed to any change, it’s equally possible that progressives could lose the vote.

    Schism is possible either way. …
    ____________________________

    Liked by 1 person

  8. The story of the mainline denominations, if nothing else, really serves as a cautionary tale on how far off the mark churches (we) can veer when cultural influences begin to alter faith and practice.

    Like

  9. Mumsee, I have often thought that the career trajectory of a lot of Christian musicians is reminiscent of David’s fall and long decline as a result of his sin. Musician is a profession that receives a lot of attention but is simultaneously very perilous. In traditional European culture, there were musicians in courts and in churches, many of whom gained great respect and developed musical techniques to high degree. But the musicians of the common people were the lowest of the low. Both Jews and Gypsises were limited in the professions they could hold in many European jurisdiction and musician was one of the few things they could do for a living. Much traditional European folk music has been strongly influenced by the Jewish Klezmer and Gypsy styles. In traditional West African culture, the musicians were the second lowest caste, just above slaves. I think it is the low reputation of musicians which influenced Puritans and other reactionaries throughout history to try to ban music, or at least all instrumental and performance music.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. We’re taking a lazy morning before leaving in 90 minutes to drive to Fairfield. We’ll go to lunch and then see the WWI movie colorized by Peter Jackson. I’ve got two extra tickets if anyone is free. Meet us at the theater.

    Afterward, we’re driving 20 minutes down the freeway to Mare Island–where my husband and I lived 39 years ago. We’ll tour the island with Stargazer and the EMT before stopping at Bulldog Machines where the second son works. We’ll tour the machine shop with him and then will wait to ride home on his 50-minute commute back to our town.

    It should be a lovely day. I’m enjoying my family vacation so very much!

    Liked by 5 people

  11. We tried to wade through All Mine to Give last night and couldn’t last. We switched to Miracle instead–a great movie.

    We can’t find The Holly and the Ivy, though we’ll try the library. We haven’t had cable in 6-7 years, so we’re “limited” to Amazon, Netflix and the library–which really is an embarrassment of riches!

    Like

  12. Ricky sends Merry Christmas greetings to all!

    And good afternoon to all! Regarding music, I like many of the older hymns, but I have found that when God is glorified in the singing, all the pickiness just leaves me in the joy of that moment. I figure that worship really is about Him and what pleases Him, not about me and what pleases me. I’m sure that He is best pleased when the music promotes worship in ‘Spirit and Truth’. I’m also sure He knows our imperfections in these efforts, and has compassion on us anyway. I rely on that. :–)

    Liked by 5 people

  13. I haven’t yet caught up on all the comments about music, but a couple responses from yesterday:

    Kare: I did not mean to denigrate any type of music, contemporary or traditional, and I’m sorry if I came across that way. I don’t think anyone else meant to do that either. As DJ said yesterday, “some of the contemporary songs are sound. Some of the older ‘traditional’ hymns aren’t so sound. It’s complicated, as they say, and labeling music simply as ‘contemporary’ or ‘traditional’ can be misleading.”

    I was just responding to DJ’s post of an article suggesting things would become more traditional with the baby boomer influence waning. The reality, in my church at least, doesn’t seem to be either driven by or favored by baby boomers. That’s all I meant to say.

    I love old hymns, 1800s revival gospel songs, 70s choruses, and much 21st century worship music.

    Cheryl: I think your experiences and mine are very different. The contemporary music I hear and sing every week isn’t baby boomer music. It’s new, from this century, this decade. Even some of the contemporary favorites from ten years ago are rarely heard any more.

    Regarding what I said about each generation inventing its own music, perhaps that was an exaggeration. But though there’s lots of overlap, you do have different kinds of music from different eras. My point was that there has always been new music, and it seems normal to me to sing both old and new. The reality for me today is that we sing almost exclusively the very new.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. And i don’t think ‘traditional’ (in a good sense) refers to the 1950s 🙂 But yes, generally, the terms contemporary and traditional are really misleading when it comes to sound music for church. There are “good” and “bad” in each category — which is why it’s always good to have a board of elders vet what is sung during worship.

    I think when popular Christian music became commercialized, we lost that and the music industry began setting the benchmark on what wound up getting sung in churches. And that wasn’t a good thing.

    Here’s the annual link for the various daily Bible reading plans from Ligonier:

    https://www.ligonier.org/blog/bible-reading-plans/

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Mare Island was where the USS Iowa was supposed to be docked permanently as a tourist attraction. We stole it from them as the group up there had been working on it for so long with not a lot of progress. Some of the folks involved broke off and started their own group, visiting local ports in SoCal to try to find a place for it. And the rest is history, but none of it was easy.

    Back to music, what I always appreciated about Michael Card was he submitted his lyrics to his church elders for review.

    Much of the newer music in churches flies in because it’s popular on Christian radio. Just saying it’s no longer so much of a careful process in deciding what becomes a part of our weekly worship when that happens.

    Back to work for me today. Everyone who gets it, enjoy your expanded holiday time off 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Kevin, thank you. I know no one was out to hurt anyone. I just wanted us to be careful that we don’t judge churches or members of those churches simply by what type of music they sing when, like you say, some is good, some is not – both hymns and ccm.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Cheryl, when we first chose to join the Methodist church, the pastor back then had a background of attending both the Baptist and Methodist churches. He was quite conservative and I heard that some gay people had left the church because of his teaching.

    Like

  18. This discussion reminds me of Thomas Hardy’s first, shortest, and happiest novel Under the Greenwood Tree. It is a sweet little pastoral romance, but as with many books, it is the secondary characters and the background of the novel which are far more interesting and have something worthwhile to communicate. The background of the romance is that the rural village church has a musical tradition of a quire. The English country quire was a group of village musicians and singers who played in the gallery of the old country churches. They were composed of musicians who would also play at village dances and other entertainments, and thus their instrumentation would include fiddles, basses, recorders and other typical folk instruments. They were also capable of singing the complicated harmonies of English music, and were the carolers going from house to house on Christmas Eve. Their style was rather livelier than the decorous music we associate with the high Anglican musical tradition. In Hardy’s novel, the local curate has grand ideas of improvement and decides to replace the quire with a small organ, played by the village schoolmistress, who has been given the education of a lady. The quire is naturally upset by being removed, and there are some very funny scenes in the book surrounding their attempts to prevent the change.

    In recent years, some English folk musicians have revived the style of quire music, which is demonstrated here:

    Like

  19. Michelle, yeah, I wasn’t exactly recommending “All Mine to Give.” It’s a tough movie. Very good acting from the young people, and dedication to the task at hand, but it’s grim and the writing isn’t always the best.

    Like

  20. I do think Baby Boomers “launched” the contemporary church model back in the 1980s and 1990s (maybe before in some of the folk coffee house meetings of the 1970s?).

    That the music has evolved is exactly what was intended in that new model — that worship would reflect the popular music and other cultural aspects, making it attractive to younger people in each succeeding generation.

    For baby boomers, many of them are so accustomed to contemporary worship that it’s mostly just “what they know” and have known most of their lives. So they continue to be the backbone support for it.

    I’ve heard in recent years that younger Christians actually are weary of the more contemporary worship and have instead been seeking some of the more ancient forms of worship through liturgy — something that reminds them of the “otherness” of God and of the faith, that doesn’t feel like the latest secular rock concert they’ve attended. Thus the renewed interest in Orthodox churches, for example.

    Like

  21. The BBC did a production of Under the Greenwood Tree a few years ago, complete with delightful performances by the village quire, such as this carol singing scene:

    Like

  22. Roscuro, you said you think it was the “low reputation of musicians” that encouraged the Puritans and others to ban instrumental and performance music. Well, I haven’t directly studied the Puritans (we did have an elder in our last church who was getting a seminary degree in the Puritan heritage, and I have read some Puritan books), and I don’t know anything of what they allowed or didn’t allow outside the church (in private homes or performance venues). But I am quite sure this is not the case for what they allowed inside the church, as part of worship. Protestants in general believed that part of the Roman Catholic corruption of proper worship was adding instruments and taking singing away from the congregation (having music be performance of the leaders rather than worship of the people).

    The Puritans have developed a reputation as dour, pleasure-killing people, but on this one they were quite in step with the Protestant redirection. When I was young, I used to sing in choirs, and I admit it was mostly because I wanted to be allowed to sing. It was hard to sit in the congregation not singing while the choir sang, and so I joined the choir. I so much prefer my more recent experience, not having a choir at all–and being in a non-instrumental church now, I am amazed at how much better the singing is, and how many more people sing parts. I can’t and won’t argue that instruments are wrong–but I can say I don’t miss them, and I really thought I would.

    Like

  23. Cheryl, the reputation of the Puritans is founded on facts. They were dour. The laws instituted during the Protectorate era in England were oppressive, as were the laws of Puritan New England. They were also brutal and violent, as evidenced by historical events such as the horrible massacre of Irish Catholics by Cromwell’s army and the Salem witch trials. The rotten fruit of the Puritans is enough to establish that their ideas of how to please God were based on works of the flesh, what Paul termed will-worship and voluntary humility, which he warned would not be effective in controlling fleshly desires. It is will-worship and voluntary humility to forbid instruments. Those who insist on singing only Psalms a cappella in church are self-contradictory, because the Psalms repeatedly instruct people to praise God using musical instruments. We have it on the authority of the inspired word of God that trained musicians and musical instruments both can be used in the worship of our God, yet people go around insisting it is more spiritual to not allow trained musicians and musical instruments in worship.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. I used the Puritans as only one example of reactionaries. I was thinking of other traditions and religions as well which forbid instrumentation on the grounds of it being worldly and unspiritual/unintellectual. Plato thought instrumental music was against reason, and in creating his ideal society in The Republic, suggested banning it. Reactionary Islamic traditions, such as Wahhabism, also forbid the use of instruments, as instrumentation is associated with the excesses of Islamic rulers’ harems and the mystical practices of Sufist Islam. The Catholic church also forbid instrument at one point – that is where Gregorian chant comes from – and the Orthodox traditions do not use instruments in worship. There is a common thread throughout the ages and culture, that those who want to be thought more spiritual and knowledgeable think that instrumental music is a threat to their high standard of living.

    Like

  25. The forbidding of instruments in music to those under Wahhabist regimes has had some unintentionally hilarious results in the modern world of internet and media. The young people in those regimes are much like the young people of every generation, wanting to be a part of the world around them. There was a YouTube artist, from Ontario incidentally, a few years ago who did covers of popular songs using only his own vocals, overdubbing himself in order to reproduce the sound of the instrumental accompaniment in addition to the lead vocals. After a while, the comment sections of his YouTube videos were primarily in Arabic. Technically, although he was singing secular Western songs in popular styles, his performances were not violating the ban on instrumental music, and young people under those bans felt free to listen to his music and were expressing their appreciation in comments.

    Like

  26. Re: Donna’s 11:22 The Presbyterian church in Hendersonville left the denomination.

    I went to the ophthalmologist this morning. Nothing has changed. Except he said that I should stay off the interstate and avoid fast traffic.
    Getting old ain’t for sissies.
    But I was blessed with excellent health until about 85.
    But the downhill slide has been fast.
    If it ain’t this, it’s that.
    Always something.

    Like

  27. Incidentally, the Arabs, like every other people group, have musical traditions and musical instruments. I find some of their music very beautiful to listen to, and they are the ones who gave us the guitar and the violin. Conservative Islam’s hostility towards any kind of instrumental music is as unnatural to Arab and other Middle Eastern cultures as it is to European culture. I remember listening to the testimony of one man who had been a conservative Muslim from Iran. One of the remarks he made as he talked about the freedom he found in Christ was that he was now free to be a musician. It reminds me of Paul’s words, “Stand fast in the liberty you have in Christ, and be not entangled again in the yoke of bondage.”

    Now for some of that beautiful Arabic music, because it is a music kind of day:

    Like

  28. Roscuro, a good deal of what you have said is unjust to much of the church, including many hundreds of years of the entire church, and large portions of the church today. You write, “It is will-worship and voluntary humility to forbid instruments.” Please seek to understand the argument before you attack it in ways that suggest it is sinful. This is unjust.

    “Those who insist on singing only Psalms a cappella in church are self-contradictory, because the Psalms repeatedly instruct people to praise God using musical instruments.” This is an argument I have made myself, but I have also heard it answered. Do you assume that those who use only instruments by conviction, and who know the Psalms better than you or I do, have never noticed this and don’t have an answer to it?

    “We have it on the authority of the inspired word of God that trained musicians and musical instruments both can be used in the worship of our God . . .”–nobody would disagree with this. Animal sacrifice can also be used in the worship of God–or could at one time. But what was used in Old Testament worship and what can be used today are in some ways different.

    ” . . . yet people go around insisting it is more spiritual to not allow trained musicians and musical instruments in worship.” Who said anything about being “more spiritual” or not allowing trained musicians in worship? I attend church with two people with amazing well-trained voices (probably more than two, but two who sit close to me often enough that I can hear them sing). And “more spiritual” is loaded language.

    For the last seven months I have attended a church that uses exclusive Psalmody, a capella. It was not my own choice, as I personally am not 100% convinced of the arguments. But I can an tell you it has been a great blessing and that it doesn’t resemble this caricature. Have you actually heard the arguments for this worship choice?

    Like

  29. By the way, it wasn’t part of the Protestant tradition in general to associate instrumentation with Catholicism. Lutherans had instruments from the beginning and the great German tradition of sacred church music that culminated in the great Baroque composers such as Johann Sebastian Bach and George Fredric Handel arose directly from the Lutheran church tradition. The Anglicans, with the exception of the reactionary Puritan faction, also kept their music. It was the Calvinist branches of the Reformation that thought it was necessary to remove instruments and limit the music to congregational singing. Ironically, it was part of the Counter Reformation in the Catholic Church in response to the Reformation to simplify the ornate Catholic Church music and remove excessive instrumentation and ornamentation in order to make what is sung clear. There are some stunningly beautiful examples of the a cappella music composed during the Counter Reformation, such as Allegri’s setting of Psalm 51:

    Like

  30. Cheryl, much of the Church for hundreds of years has been in the wrong about a lot of things, something that Protestants have no trouble saying about the Catholic and Orthodox traditions. Yes, I have read arguments for all a cappella Psalm singing – incidentally, several are made by Rosaria Butterfield in her first book. I have also personally met such people and even attended an all a cappella Psalm singing church on more than one occasion. I have no problem with all a cappella Psalm singing being a stylistic choice. I have a problem with the insinuation that instrumentation is more worldly than a cappella music.

    Like

  31. Cheryl, you say that what happened in the Old Testament is different than what happens now. Yet the Psalms are in the Old Testament. Furthermore, the use of instruments in the Old Testament is not equivalent to the use of sacrifice. Sacrifice was something ordained in the law of Moses. The use of instruments in temple worship, as I previously noted, was something introduced in the reign of King David, and there are no specific instructions in the law of Moses about instruments, with the exception of the silver trumpets. The law of Moses was fulfilled in Jesus Christ and its ceremonial practices are no longer necessary The Psalms and the performance of music in worship were never part of that ordained law. The Psalms were clearly used in New Testament worship, although we have no description of the instruments that were used. But that instruments are associated with the worship of the Church is clearly seen in the vision of the four and twenty elders in Revelation, who are held by commentators to represent the glorified Church, and are described by John as holding harps.

    Like

  32. More to mull over (again, old/traditional doesn’t = good and new/contemporary doesn’t = bad)

    https://www.patheos.com/blogs/ponderanew/2015/09/08/8-reasons-churches-should-sing-new-songs/

    _________________________________

    8 Reasons We Should Sing New Songs

    The false dichotomy of worship that fractures our churches into “traditional” and “contemporary” worshiping bodies has pitted old against new. This is detrimental in a multitude of ways, not the least of which is our congregational singing. I’ve written before about why we should be singing old songs. Here are a few reasons why we should be singing new songs, as well. …

    … As you search for newer material, here are some things to keep in mind.

    Be willing to sift through the crap. Resist the urge to become a slave to the cool, the current, and the contemporary. Choose well. Most of the commercial worship music coming out of Nashville or Atlanta or Australia isn’t worth our time, money, and energy. Adopt only its very best, and move on. Hymn-writing is not a dead art. There are rich, beautiful, theologically dense texts still being written by pastors, theologians, and lay people. New doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s performed by a band and commercially marketed. …

    So sing.

    Sing together.

    Sing often.

    Sing heartily.

    Sing clearly.

    Sing well.

    Sing new, as well as old.
    ___________________________________

    Like

  33. Roscuro, I see you have posted further, and FYI I have not yet read what you wrote. It didn’t let me post this and I opened a new window. The main points in arguing for non-instrumental Psalm singing, in my own understanding, are as follows (this is not a learned theological argument and I can’t vouch for the precision of every word):

    (1) Presbyterians historically believe in the “regulative principle” of worship (as opposed, say, to the Lutheran “normative” principle). Under the regulative principle, we can only do in worship what is commanded (or what is considered an “accident” or trivial point, for example whether we sit or stand and what we sit on). So, for example, we can take up a collection, but we cannot have a puppet show as part of morning worship. The normative principle says, in contrast, that we can do what is not forbidden. So we cannot have women pastors (in those denominations that agree it is forbidden), but we likely can put on puppet shows. I’m not trying to be facetious as though Lutherans are prone to puppet shows, just explaining the difference.

    (2) Psalm singing is commanded as part of worship (“psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs” forming different parts of the Psalter). An argument can be made that singing can extend beyond the Psalter–but can you agree that this argument for Psalms only is in fact a good-conscience argument, and a legitimate position even if you happen to disagree with it? Also, can you see the irony that in most of the North American church today we actually sing very few Psalms (some of our hymns are based on Psalms)–it seems that while we might not agree on whether we can sing only Psalms, we should be able to agree that Scripture’s inspired hymnal should form a good part of the basis of our worship music.

    (3) The instruments used in public worship in the Old Testament were not used the way we use instruments in worship today. Rather, during the sacrifices the Levites sang and instruments were played–perhaps partly to cover up the noise of the slaughter and turn it more obviously to worship? This is not equivalent to instruments accompanying congregational singing. Also, not all worship is corporate worship. Calls to use a stringed instrument and sing to the Lord may well be more akin to David the shepherd privately singing as he tended the sheep than to what we think of today in public worship.

    (4) One huge advantage of a capella Psalmody is that it is counter-cultural to all of us, and thus cross-cultural to all of us! We are simply not part of the “worship wars,” nor are we arguing whether to use a greater percentage of music the teens like or a greater percentage the seniors like, or whether black people or Asians can sing this with us. We aren’t singing culturally driven songs, but biblically derived ones. Oh, and in most evening services in our church a few of the songs are congregational choice–and it’s the young people who are most eager to get their choices in. And it is also lovely to hear people actually singing, and many singing the parts. As I said, I had some hesitation at the idea in coming here, but it fled quickly. (I thought I would “miss” other styles of worship. I don’t. Full-voice a capella singing is glorious.)

    (5) The New Testament makes no mention of use of musical instruments (we certainly are not commanded to use them in New Testament worship, though even my pastor acknowledges that some see instruments as an “accident” of worship). And instruments were not used for the vast majority of the history of the church. One cannot argue it is “false humility” to choose to worship the same way most of the church in history has worshiped. My understanding is that instruments weren’t used at all in the first six centuries, and very little in the first millennium. Non-instrumental worship was recovered in the Reformation. As you have acknowledged, the Orthodox church still doesn’t use instruments. So basically that means part of the Roman Catholic church does, and so does most of the Protestant church in the last couple hundred years or so–but that’s hardly a resounding majority of the church, or the most theologically literate portions of it.

    (6) It isn’t fair to say that we think we are “more spiritual” by not using instruments or by using only Psalms. It is fair to say that we believe that how we worship matters, and that we are called to worship God correctly, and in reverence and awe. Most of the history of the church has seen that to mean using inspired texts (which may or may not be limited to the Psalms) and using only one instrument–the human voice. We aren’t “more spiritual” because we use Scripture in worship, because we are led by elders, because we believe in church discipline, etc.–we simply believe this is the correct way to operate.

    I personally have no problem with singing a rousing rendition of “A Mighty Fortress” with organ accompaniment. But you know what? Frankly, given a church culture in which most churches sing mostly theologically vacuous or error-ridden songs, and in which stating a preference for theological depth is seen as “arrogant” or anti-youth . . . I can very, very happily join a church that sings only lyrics that were inspired by God. For the last seven years I was part of a church that used the Trinity Hymnal, which is a fairly decent hymnal, and most of the choices were sound. (The Trinity Hymnal has a few bad ones.) But for my whole adult life before that, the music was far and away the theologically weakest part of the service, with more “bad” or “mediocre” than “good” or “great.” We also were almost constantly learning new songs we might only sing once or twice. I cannot even express how quickly I would choose a capella Psalm singing over that, and that was in theologically conservative churches! I really do not think “anything goes” music has produced a strong church. The early 21st century is not a high point in the life of the church. So I’m happy to be part of a church that is generally more careful in what it introduces into worship, and I strongly disagree there is any foundation at all of false humility or will-worship involved.

    Like

  34. Remember, what I am saying is wrong is to claim that certain things, such as the use of instruments in worship, things which are not condemned in the Bible, are sinful and worldly. I do not set up the instrumental tradition above the a cappella tradition – both have their place, and as I said previously, music is not such a vital element of worship that its traditions and techniques should be so controversial. What I am saying is that those from the a cappella tradition cannot claim spiritual or moral superiority in their worship over those who use instruments, and that those who do claim such a superiority are engaging in what Paul condemned in Colossian 2:16-23. This is an observation I would make about many other church traditions, including dress, seating, church architecture and all those other things that Paul observed in that passage were temporal matters, related to physical elements that perish. Instruments and voices alike wear out, music unplayed is eventually forgotten – there is musical Paul observed in that passage were temporal matters, related to physical elements that perish. Instruments and voices alike wear out, music unplayed is eventually forgotten – there is musical notation found in archaelogical sites, but most of the time, we cannot tell what exactly the notation was supposed to represent, and if the Western technique of writing music stopped being used, within a few generations our own written music would similarly fall silent, never to be heard again. The Psalms themselves were set to certain melodies, a few of which are named in the introduction to some Psalms, but no one knows how to play those tunes anymore. Revelation and other heavenly visions make it clear that music is a part of eternity, but earthly music is temporary. As something that perishes, it does not hold enough importance to make it a spiritually vital matter to have one particular musical style over another in worship. If the only doctrinally orthodox church where I lived only sang a cappella, I would have no problem singing along. I would have a serious problem if they said they were the only orthodox church because they sang a capella.

    Like

  35. Roscuro, I don’t think anyone is insinuating that instruments are “more worldly” than a capella singing. By that standard, denominations cannot make choices about anything. If we choose to use grape juice, we are saying that those who use wine are more worldly, and vice versa. If we baptize infants, then those who don’t are more worldly, and vice versa.

    Making a choice for one’s own denomination as to what is best in worship, and being able to explain the reasons for the choices, is not judging others for making different choices.

    Like

  36. Cheryl:
    1) The argument of the regulative principle is ironic, as the regulative principle is derived from human reasoning.

    2) My criticism was not of the singing of Psalms.

    3) How do you know how the instruments were or were not used? I’m a musician, so I understand a number of things about the musical instructions surrounding the Psalms that a lay person might not notice, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I knew all about how the instruments were used in worship. I would note that the presence of Selah is thought to indicate a musical interlude; that certain Psalms, such as the ones with the repeated ‘for his mercy endures for ever’ would seem to indicate congregational involvement; that the introductions to a number of the Psalms contain information about melodies/harmonies to be used as well as instrumentation; and that Christ’s singing of a Psalm with his disciples would indicate that lay people knew the Psalms and participated in the singing of Psalms.

    4) “We are not part of the culture wars” The tone of this point is strongly reminiscent of Jesus’ parable of the Pharisee praying, “I thank my God that I am not as other men…”

    5) Yes, it does – see my comment about the elders in Revelation.

    6) Frankly, this is semantics. Thinking one’s style of music in worship is more correct and more reverent is thinking one’s style of music in worship is more spiritual.

    Like

  37. Remember, what I am saying is wrong is to claim that the use of instruments in worship condemned in the Bible is worldly. I do not set up the instrumental tradition above the a cappella tradition – both have their place, and as I said previously, music is not such a vital element of worship that its traditions and techniques should be so controversial. What I am saying is that those from the a cappella tradition cannot claim spiritual or moral superiority in their worship over those who use instruments, and that those who do claim such a superiority are engaging in what Paul condemned in Colossian 2:16-23. This is an observation I would make about many other church traditions, including dress, seating, church architecture and all those other things that Paul called things that perished with the using. Instruments and voices alike wear out, and music unplayed or unsung is eventually forgotten. There is musical notation found in archaelogical sites, but most of the time, we cannot tell what exactly the notation was supposed to represent, and if the Western technique of writing music stopped being used, within a few generations our own written music would similarly fall silent, never to be heard again. The Psalms themselves were set to certain melodies, a few of which are named in the introduction to some Psalms, but no one knows how to play those melodies anymore (using the regulative principle, the fact that we no longer know the original melodies could be made into an argument, and probably has been somewhere, that we can no longer sing the Psalms and only speak them). Revelation and other heavenly visions make it clear that music is a part of eternity, but earthly music is temporary. As something that perishes, it does not hold enough importance to make it a spiritually vital matter to have one particular musical style over another in worship. If the only doctrinally orthodox church where I lived only sang a cappella, I would have no problem singing along. I would have a serious problem if they said they were the only orthodox church because they sang a capella.

    Like

  38. Roscuro,

    Replies to your replies:

    (1) Isn’t any way of ordering theology ultimately “human reasoning”? That says nothing about the truth or error of the point made.

    (2) OK.

    (3) In saying how the instruments were or were not used, I am not speaking of my own research, but of what I have heard as part of the reasoning for our position. Having recently joined our church, and being currently in the membership class, I have heard and read quite a bit of material on some of these points recently. (And our pastor, who is teaching the class, made a couple of relevant points. First, the church does not ask its members to “agree” with the Psalms only, a capella position, but that obviously members must be willing to submit to the position. Second, we didn’t spend time looking at the reasons for the position as though it is the most important element of worship, but because it is the element that is most likely to be “new” to new members.)

    I definitely believe the lay people knew the songs and participated in the singing of the Psalms. That is clear several places even within the Gospels.

    (4) Um, really? I’m speaking with relief to be in a church that isn’t being torn apart, or having separate services, or tolerating bad music, because of the “culture wars.” I always hated that element of worship, of asking that the music of the church be more carefully considered and having that flippantly brushed off as being mere “worship wars” and “just a style difference.” It is a vast relief not to have that be an issue anymore. And I really do think it is helpful not to be constantly reinventing ourselves. How that is Pharasaical escapes me.

    (5) Yes, I said I wasn’t writing a theological treatise, and that was one point I didn’t clarify (and forgot, actually), though that is mentioned in discussions of this matter within my church. The elders in Revelation don’t represent how the church on earth worships today.

    (6) I guess it depends on how it is meant. When I hear someone say “more spiritual” it sounds like they are suggesting “You think you are better than we are.” Striving for the truth is not such a matter. I happen to believe, for example, that a man cannot marry another man, that children in the womb should not be killed, and that drinking to the point of drunkenness is wrong. But holding those beliefs don’t make me “more spiritual” than someone who doesn’t believe them. I have also already said I am not 100% convinced of the a capella argument myself–but I do believe a case can be made for it in good conscience, and I am more than happy to submit to it. I do believe it to be more in line with biblical worship than flashing strobe lights and drums that drown out the voices of the worshipers. It is at the very least an “acceptable” form of worship, and with that I am content. You might or might not agree with it, but that’s a different matter from it being legalistic or Pharasaical.

    Like

  39. Cheryl, on 4) I would point to a passage in I Corinthians 1:10-13, where Paul criticizes the Corinthians for splitting themselves into factions. In that passage, he includes the people who say, thinking no doubt they were rising above the factions, that they are of Christ, but really were being as factious as the rest. It is a trap easily fallen into, and using the apparent neutrality to cultural change of a cappella music as an argument for the superiority a cappella music is falling into the trap.

    On 6) Here you label choosing music styles as part of “striving for the truth” and make it equivalent to supporting homosexual unions, abortion, and drunkeness. Sexual purity, murder, and drunkenness are points on which the Bible is unequivocal. Music is not.

    Like

  40. Wow, debates on the daily and news threads. Those who are not interested in church music or immigration debates might consider moving, in an orderly fashion, over to the prayer thread. There, you may receive prayer, love, and support no matter what type of music you sing or enjoy, nor does your immigration status matter one whit.

    Liked by 3 people

  41. I do not set up the instrumental tradition above the a cappella tradition – both have their place, and as I said previously, music is not such a vital element of worship that its traditions and techniques should be so controversial. What I am saying is that those from the a cappella tradition cannot claim spiritual or moral superiority in their worship over those who use instruments, and that those who do claim such a superiority are engaging in what Paul condemned in Colossians 2:16-23. This is an observation I would make about many other church traditions, including dress, seating, church architecture and all those other things that Paul observed in that passage were temporal matters, related to physical elements that perish. Instruments and voices alike wear out, music unplayed is eventually forgotten. There is musical notation found in archaelogical sites, but most of the time, we cannot tell what exactly the notation was supposed to represent, and if the Western technique of writing music stopped being used, within a few generations our own written music would similarly fall silent, never to be heard again. The Psalms themselves were set to certain melodies, a few of which are named in the introduction to some Psalms, but no one knows how to play those tunes anymore. Revelation and other heavenly visions make it clear that music is a part of eternity, but earthly music is temporary. As something that perishes, it does not hold enough importance to make it a spiritually vital matter to have one particular musical style over another in worship. If the only doctrinally orthodox church where I lived only sang a cappella, I would have no problem singing along. I would have a serious problem if they said they were the only orthodox church because they sang a capella.

    Like

  42. You are welcome to carry on other conversations on this thread. I wasn’t intending a passing remark about Puritans banning music to turn into a debate, although it did somehow, but there is a lot of other material also on here to discuss.

    Like

  43. Roscuro, is it necessarily “splitting into factions” to say “I believe this is proper worship”? In Chicago I had a good friend who believed women could be pastors. I disagreed with her. Ultimately she believed it so strongly that it hurt our friendship, but I myself was willing to “agree to disagree” on the issue. By this argument, every church must be willing to use musical instruments (or sing music other than the Psalms) if any church does. That makes no sense. None of us is saying this is a salvation issue. Just Sunday I worshiped at my old church (which is not Psalms only or a capella). It doesn’t need to “divide” people to make a case for something.

    I wasn’t saying the points were equivalent. Pointing to the other side, we will get into discussions with homosexuals, and someone will say “I have friends who are divorced, and one of my relatives is a child molestor; I disagree with them, but I still love them,” and the homosexual will inevitably say, “How dare you try to suggest that being gay is as bad as divorce and child abuse!” I am not saying that (for example) using a violin in worship is as bad as fornication; I am not, in fact, even saying that using a violin is sin. At the same time, we have quite a few examples in Scripture (even in the New Testament) of people being killed for improper worship, so surely the subject actually is important. My point is simply that someone can hold a position, and even hold it strongly (e.g., Abortion is murder) and still respect people on the other side.

    Also, while very few a capella proponents would go so far as to say use of instruments in public worship is sin, I do think it is safe to say that some attempts at worship are in fact sinful, and the idea that worship is just a matter of “personal preference” and “style” is in fact error (and sometimes sin). I once attended a service that used Muppet-type puppets to portray the crucifixion. The puppets marched across the baptistry, with one of them (depicting Jesus) carrying a cross. Far less sacrilege got people killed in Bible days. We will draw the lines of “proper worship” in different places, but elders are accountable before God to draw them. Drawing lines, and believing oneself to have drawn them in the correct place, is not “factional.”

    I know my denomination holds a minority position in 21st century America. That doesn’t automatically mean it is wrong, it doesn’t mean it is reactionary, and it certainly does not mean it is “divisive.” It is just, by modern standards, different.

    Liked by 1 person

  44. Cheryl, who was killed in the New Testament for improper worship? The only people I can think of who died as punishment were Ananias and Sapphira, and that was because they lied to the Holy Spirit. Those who died for improper worship in the Old Testament were Nadab and Abihu, for offering strange fire, possibly while drunk since Aaron is immediately afterward instructed not to drink while performing his priestly role (Leviticus 10:1-11); and Uzza, for putting his hand on the Ark when it tilted on the ox cart (I Chronicles 13). That last incident is worth remarking, because music is played at both David’s attempts to bring back the Ark. But it was the second, successful attempt to bring the Ark to Jerusalem that marked the beginning of David’s musical innovations in worship (I Chronicles 15:1-16:43). David’s actions regarding bringing back the Ark could perhaps be said to display the nominative principle, as carrying the Ark by ox cart was against specific instructions, but the law was silent on what music could be used. David was wrong about the ox cart, but, as the presence of the Psalms in the canon of Scripture demonstrates, right about the music.

    We as Christians walk in a liberty that not even David had. We are warned not to use that liberty as an occasion to serve our fleshly lusts, so displays of musical skill for the sake of showing off that musical skill would be wrong. But those who have such skill are as much responsible for using that skill in the service of God and others as a person with building or math or medical skills. It is strange to forbid instrumentalists to use their musical skill within the context of worship music on the grounds that we do not know if it is all right or not, despite what the Scriptures have to say about praising God with instruments. It is not just drawing a line where no line has been drawn in Scripture; it is drawing a line where permission has been given in Scripture. It is like forbidding marriage because the form of the marriage ceremony is not specifically described in Scripture. The Puritans of New England actually did take marriage out of the churches and make it a civil ceremony on the ground that church marriage was associated with the Catholic Church. That brings us full circle to where this started.

    Like

  45. I LOVE Great Escape.

    Girlfriend and I sat through it 2-3 times in a movie theater one summer afternoon when we were teens. There were so many cute guys we were trying to keep track and decide who was the cutest. 🙂

    But it genuinely is a great film, one of my all-time fav’s as well.

    Go Steve McQueen.

    Liked by 2 people

  46. Perhaps you were thinking of I Corinthians 11:30, but what is being spoken of there is taking the Lord’s Supper unworthily. It would be incorrect to draw a line from a warning about taking Communion to include the topic of music in church. I did not intend to get in this debate, as I said yesterday that music was not important enough for the style of music to be a critical factor in worship. I repeat that assertion today. Music does not stand in the same category as offerings in the Old Testament nor the Lord’s Supper in the New Testament. Although there is music in eternity; what is played on earth, whether by instruments or sung a cappella, is earthly. The music of entire civilizations have been completely lost in the sands of time, with even the original melodies to which Psalms were set being completely lost, and one day, our great Western composers and popular musicians will similarly be utterly silenced, a thing that will perish with the using (Colossians 2:20-23).

    Like

  47. Roscuro, I have writing skill and photography skill, but I don’t use either in public worship. Most people with speaking skill won’t get the opportunity to use that in public worship. That doesn’t mean we can’t use such gifts within the body, however, if we can’t use them in public worship. (And by the way, I have heard that exact same argument used for women preachers, that God would not “waste” the gifts of half the membership by not allowing women to be pastors and elders.) If it is true that musical instruments were rarely used in the first millennium, and not at all in the first few hundred years, would that not suggest some validity to the argument that New Testament worship was intended to use the instruments of our voices and not additional ones? I’m not a historian and cannot research that argument, but I have never heard it refuted. If the church began without instrumentation, and continued without it for a millennium, adding it would be the innovation, and not necessarily a helpful (or approved) one.

    Those who forbid instruments don’t do so on the grounds that we don’t know if it’s right or not, but based on the belief that it is not. Incense was also used in Old Testament worship, but mentioned in the NT (post-temple) only in Revelation. We had priests in the Old Testament, elders in the New.

    David’s psalms were obviously inspired, and changes he made to worship obviously were as well. On the other hand, several people in the Old Testament attempted worship innovations that brought their death, leprosy, loss of the kingdom, or other strong penalties. We aren’t always told the details of how God communicated to His prophets or kings, but obviously such change was not just David stroking his chin and deciding to try something new.

    Paul tells us that some have died for partaking of communion when their hearts were not right with God, which strongly suggests proper worship was a life-or-death matter even in the early days of the New Testament. That’s not a one-on-one correlation to our subject, but I don’t think it’s a rabbit trail; it was the text I was thinking of.

    I’m not trying to convince you of this position, just showing you it is a “reasonable” one. If I were on a debate team, I could argue either side from Scripture; I think a case can be made for both sides. In our own era, my church’s view is the minority position, but it isn’t extreme, reactionary, new, or even rare. It would seem that the vast majority of theologians who have looked at this subject come down on the a capella /psalms only side. In fact, my husband has been convinced of this position for a long time (he mentioned it before we married), and one of his own frustrations is that the pro-instrument side assumes the rightness of its position and never bothers to actually make a case for it. He has yet to see any serious scholarship at all on the pro-hymns-and-instruments side. Yet the side that has the theological scholarship is expected to hold the “defensive” position, and seen as the oddities, simply because current fashion is against it.

    At any rate, he is headed for bed and I need to close. I respect you, Roscuro, and do thank you for dialoguing on this.

    Liked by 1 person

  48. Good morning. I looked out and twelve year old was picking up the black cat by its back legs. Why that cat does not scratch his eyes out, I don’t know. He was doing it gently and the cat did not seem to mind but I have told him not to so consequences from me rather than the cat. I checked to see if the watering had been done by eleven year old, nope, she had stirred the slush but not thawed the buckets. Chickens don’t lay eggs without water. She did some more work. And so it goes…..

    Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.