WOW! OK… so we got some attention with that last post about music. I think we really… wait for it… STRUCK A CHORD.
Here is a link to the previous Music Post: http://www.joshuateis.com/i-love-a-variety-of-christian-music/
There were so many questions and comments on the last post I thought I would post a follow-up. A few things I want to say…
I. The Gracious Response
I was overwhelmed by the amount of positive feedback that I received! Many who would not even agree with my conclusions were so very gracious in their responses. I also noticed how many men and women have traveled the same road I had and come to the same conclusion. I even had several preacher friends contact me in person to show their support and warn me of “those who might be critical.” Honestly, this did not happen. I guess I’ve been hanging with the wrong preachers because even those who might disagree with my conclusions have only been loving and supportive.
Those who know me personally understand that my heart was never to be argumentative nor to undermine anyone’s spiritual authority who would happen to disagree with my last blog. My sole desire was to tell my story in hopes that it might help someone else.
II. It’s OK to Disagree
With that being said, there are those who disagreed with my thoughts on Christian music. And to this fact I say… OK.
Yes, it’s OK to disagree with me on this issue. Believing that Contemporary Christian or Southern Gospel music is appropriate does not make me a liberal nor does believing these are inappropriate make you a legalist. We just disagree on a minor issue. Remember, the core doctrines of our faith are: the trinity, the virgin birth, the Deity of Christ, the blood atonement, salvation by grace through faith, the resurrection of Christ, the inspiration of the Bible, creation, the 2nd coming of Christ, and Heaven & Hell as literal places. These beliefs are what many called The Fundamentals over 100 years ago when true liberalism was creeping into the church. I hope we all can agree that a preference in music style is a minor issue comparatively.
After the 1st blog post I had one of my dearest friends ask me with genuine curiosity, “So… um… do you listen to like… Stryper now?” I could not help but laugh. I’m chuckling right now just thinking about it. I guess the first post left a lot of unanswered questions.
III. Clarifying My Position
“Draw a Line. Tell us where you stand. Is Christian Rap acceptable? How about Christian Death Metal, Christian Reggae or Christian Dubstep?” 🙂
I cannot draw a line for you. It would be against my Biblical position to do so.
Then who draws the line?
I believe that I can only be dogmatic where I see the Scripture is dogmatic. I do not believe music to be one of these dogmatic issues. I know there are those who disagree. I know there are those who believe music to be a core, fundamental issue. I simply disagree. Therefore, where the Bible is silent or vague a Christian ought to come to their position through the leading of the Spirit. I believe that the Christian can still hear from God today.
The Spirit of God dwells in you: I Corinthians 3:16
Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
The Spirit of God will guide you to a position: John 16:13
When he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth.
A true sheep hears from the Shepherd: John 10:27
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.
The Holy Spirit of God will be the one who will get specific with you. He will speak to you and let you know what is true and right.
Don’t you believe there is some music that dishonors God?
Of course I believe there is some music that dishonors God. To my knowledge there are 3 passages that speak of music in a negative light. Exodus 32:15-20 gives indication of music that sounded to the ears of Joshua like the sounds of war. In Daniel 3:1-7 Nebuchadnezzar had music that accompanied his idol worship. In Amos 5:21-23 the prophet explains that God hates the singing and sacrifices of Israel when done in empty ritual rather than true worship. The first two passages speak of music being used in idol worship. The third speaks of empty ritualistic worship of the true God without any passion and purity. So, yes, music that leads to false worship or blind ritualistic repetition is ungodly.
Why won’t you give us your line?
It wouldn’t be helpful. Yes, there are some genres of “Christian Music” that I won’t listen to. I have preferences and you have preferences. My goal is not to convince you to listen to the style of Christian music I listen to. My goal is to get you to commune with the Spirit. Pray about it, listen to music and develop your own standards. I’m not training you to be a Christian if I just give you my standard and set you free. That would be too easy. I must teach others to actually develop a relationship with the Holy Spirit and allow the Spirit to guide them into truth. Frankly, there are too many church leaders that are waiting until a certain musician or institution approves a certain song, instrument or sound before they incorporate that into their lives and ministries.
Why did the Holy Spirit lead me to my standard and you to your standard?
The Holy Spirit speaks individually about specific issues. For example, I have a very close friend who was called of God to be a Pastor. I too was called of God to be a Pastor. How did he know that he was to move to Mexico, grow a mustache and preach in Spanish? How did I know I was to move back to Las Vegas, plant a church and start a blog? The answer to both questions is the Holy Spirit. We assume that just because we spoke to the Holy Spirit about a particular issue and felt led to create a particular standard for our lives that everyone that speaks to the Holy Spirit will be led to exactly the same standard. This is false. The Lord may lead you to a more conservative position regarding music because of the culture where you serve, while the same Lord leads me to an entirely different position fitted for the culture in which I am serving. By the way, I believe a culture can be different not only from country to country but also county to county and even church to church within the same city.
Won’t your position on music affect your public worship services?
I hope the answer is yes! I’ve never thought it a good argument that what you use for private worship need not to affect your public worship. To me, this is ridiculous. First, if you have no music in your private worship then something is wrong with your private worship. Second, if you worship privately with only traditional hymns it would make sense that you church would primarily use traditional hymns. Third, if you worship privately with CCM then your church will tend to have CCM in the worship services. This is why at Southern Hills Baptist Church we have a blend of Contemporary Christian Music, Traditional Hymns and Southern Gospel. I believe a church is likely to have the music that their pastor uses in private worship.
Is it legalistic for a church to choose traditional hymns above contemporary worship?
No! Neither is it carnal for a church to choose contemporary worship above traditional hymns. What is legalistic is when a church teaches that God is more pleased with our worship than the worship of the church down the road. This happens from both sides. The traditional church with hymnbooks, choir specials and a baby grand piano could take pride in their choice and accuse the contemporary church of a “worldly sound that displeases God.” The contemporary church with their praise team and band could take pride in their choice and accuse the traditional church of “not being relevant “or” dead and formalistic.” Both attitudes are wrong! Both attitudes are hurtful to the cause of Christ. As a Baptist, I believe in something called the autonomy of the local church. That pastor and that church have been led by the Spirit and know what is right for that community.
As a pastor, aren’t you afraid that your people will choose the wrong music?
As a Baptist, I believe in something called Individual Soul Liberty (Romans 14:12). I desire to teach our people to develop a relationship with God. We teach the people of Southern Hills that God still speaks through His Scripture and His Spirit. The Spirit will never contradict that which the Scripture has clearly established. However, where the Scripture is not specific the Spirit will be specific. I preach Galatians 5:16 which says, “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” If they are walking in the Spirit, the Lord will lead them to music that is right for them. And surprisingly, it may not be the same Christian music to which I listen.
I hope this helps. Our church has been working through these issues for the last few years and it has been very good for us. For those who are not part of our church I’m sure there are many more questions. Feel free to ask in the comment section below. If you disagree I welcome your comments as well. I am interested in this dialogue and would love to hear your opinion.
(Disclaimer, I am not speaking to children or teenagers who are bound by Scripture to obey their parents regarding music. I am also not speaking to any staff member of an institution that is bound by their own word to follow the standards established by their leadership.)