Can anyone give me an objective and empirical explanation of what constitutes "the world's music"? Simply saying that certain music "sounds worldly" does not make it so, and I fear that too many people judge music based on some esoteric or gnostic intuition they feel they have.
And let me just say: music and worship "wars" have been going on for a long time, and I don't really wish to focus too much on this secondary issue, but I'm curious.
A few months ago, I talked with a man who attends a church somewhere else in the United States, and he told me that he attended a particular church, as opposed to another church nearby, because his church understood the difference between "God's music" and "the world's music" (thus implying that the neighboring church did not understand the difference). I didn't realize that God had revealed to us what His music is. Sure, He has the book of Psalms, but that only gives us the lyrics to His music, and not the music itself.
So what are we to do? Many of these people decry any song that has a drumbeat, but won't think twice about playing Mozart or Beethoven on the cello for special music during church.
Am I missing something?
Despite my thoughts in the first few paragraphs, I do not want to make it sound as though I think anything and everything should go. I get very uncomfortable with many things that go on in the name of worship. As a matter of fact, I am fairly conservative in my musical tastes when it comes to worship services (of course, the term "conservative" is very relative) and I often find myself weeping at the actions of those who are supposedly worshiping, or leading in worship. What often passes for the worship of God seems to be the worship of self.
But on what basis can I declare any music to be evil or sacred? The Bible doesn't seem to give any type of black and white explanation of such distinctions. Obviously, the lyrics go a long way towards this discussion, and I think a lot of our "praise music" is very shallow and self-centered. But beyond that, where in scripture, or even scientific evidence, has it been proven that a drum or guitar or whatever your instrument of choice is, is inherently evil? Yes, I have heard and read that a syncopated beat is "bad," but I've yet to read any objective scientific evidence about this (besides from the pens of authors who have an agenda to tear down any type of music that is different from their tastes, or people who used to be in the rock culture and, understandably, would like to distance themselves from that type of music).
And I'm being serious about these questions. I am fairly "agnostic" on the music issue. I am very uncomfortable with a lot of what goes on in our church services, but I would also like to make sure that I am not simply reacting against these things because of my own biases. And, at the same time, I don't want to be arbitrary about music, saying that certain types of music are "worldly," yet not be able to utilize an objective rule of standard to make such statements.
And simply because a certain style seems to be of a "secular form" (how something is determined to be of a "secular form," I am not sure), does this make it evil? Why is music the only artistic medium in which we make such a distinction? We don't look at a painting, and say, "The way he utilized his brush strokes here is of a secular form."
So . . . can somebody please help me!
*The picture is taken from a clever website, which is selling T-Shirts based on Adventist culture. Please check out the site: http://www.eighteenfortyfour.com/shop.html.