Monday, March 30, 2009

Epistemology, Utilitarianism, and Music - Part 1

Worship and Music. Music and Worship. Such hot potatoes. And something that I have been meaning to write about for quite a while. Until now I have put it off (though pausing for limited remarks here). But I think this is the perfect time to write on this subject - especially in light of some things that happened this past weekend at a conference that I attended.

Without going into a great deal of detail, or passing judgment on those involved, let me just share a brief sketch of what went on. I attended an evangelism conference this past weekend in Maine along with 175 other persons from my particular denomination. All Seventh-day Adventist pastors in Northern New England were in attendance, as well as "laypersons" from each church, and the church administrators in this region. We were all there to learn about evangelism and outreach.

Music inadvertently became one of the focuses, however, when the group that was leading out in the music chose to sing "contemprary" songs and utilized an electric drum set. To my thinking, this is probably the first time that such an ensemble has been used for a conference-wide initiative for a bunch of adults. It did not go over very well, to say the least. Each time the group got up to sing, a mass of people (numbering probably anywhere from 30-40) promptly stood to their feet and exited the gymnasium. When the music ended, they filed back into the gym, visibly showing their disappointment/disdain/frustration over the music.

It all came to a head on Sunday morning when one of the exiting individuals was granted a chance to address the whole audience for a few seconds. He did not get prior approval from administrators to do so, though he was allowed a chance to speak by an unsuspecting guest who was one of the weekend presenters. Before he could complete his talk, which revealed the fact that many attendees were upset about the music, a conference administrator took the microphone from him and politely, but firmly, thanked him for sharing, but said it would not be necessary to continue.

Unfortunately, a weekend that was supposed to be focused on reaching the lost turned into a discussion on music and worship. And, sadly, such things happen far too often.

Over the weekend, I thought and prayed quite a bit about the whole topic. The minute I sat down on Friday night and saw the electric drum set sitting on the stage, I knew that we were headed for trouble. And since I have returned home, I have spent much of the day studying the biblical witness on the subject, as well as consulting some other materials that people have written on it. And, of course, this topic has, for quite a while, been an ongoing self-debate in my mind.

And, really, the more I study and grapple with the topic, the more agnostic I become. Yes, I will admit that I am agnostic in this instance. I find myself agreeing and disagreeing with arguments from people on both "sides" of the issues. In a conversation with someone who is all about the modern "praise" music, I take the more "conservative" side. Similarly, with someone who is more traditional and conservative, I take a little more "open-minded" or "liberal" attitude. And then I find myself agreeing with good arguments that are presented by scholars on both sides of the divide. And all this lends itself to agnosticism.

With that being said, I have drawn some conclusions when it comes to this topic. And hopefully those conclusions will come out as I share my thoughts with you in the rest of this post.

But, first, I think one of the more unfortunate realities surrounding this whole discussion is that there is very little – or no – intelligent and dispassionate discussion on this topic. Usually these issues are discussed in a very emotional manner, spurned by a conflict that arises when one “side” tries to enforce its will at the expense, and without permission from, the other side.

But I think it would be very productive if we could get both sides to sit down with each other and prayerfully and unemotionally study this issue together. It seems to me that one of the frustrations that “conservatives” have is that they see this new music creeping in with very little questioning—except by their own. Liberals do not come to conservatives and say, “Hey, can we talk about the music issue?” Instead, conservatives show up to a weekend conference and there is a drum set, bass guitar, and new songs that no one knows. I think they feel that such music is being forced upon them to some degree.

Not to get “emergent,” but it would be healthy if we could come together to talk about these things in a coherent manner. That would go a long way in helping each side understand the other.

And now on to some of my musings.

A Few Conclusions Thus Far

As I’ve spent a little time thinking about this issue, I have come to conclude, first of all, that any discussion about music and worship needs to start with epistemology. Each side seems to make claims about music that could be cleared up if epistemological presuppositions were clarified. (Epistemology is, in simple terms, the study of how we know what we know.) As an example, at one of the mass exoduses during the worship time over the weekend, I slipped out and joined some of the demonstrating saints to try to get a feeling for what they were thinking. One of the ladies, when she saw me, said, "You don't like the music either?" Not wanting to take sides, I said, "Well, it's a tough issue." Without missing a beat, she responded: "What is going on in there is not worship."

What I wanted to say in response to her was, "Says who?" This is an epistemological issue. On what basis was the lady making the claim that the music was not “worship”? The Bible? Ellen White? Subjective feeling?

Similarly, when someone on the other side says that music simply comes down to personal taste, this sounds good in theory, but on what basis is he or she making such a claim? Is this what the Bible teaches?

And, while we’re on it, what does the Bible say about this subject? Surprisingly, very little that is conclusive.

I spent a little bit of time this morning studying the subject in the Bible. As one example, I looked at the 17 or so times that the Bible talks about the “timbrel” (one of the only percussion instruments that the Bible talks about) and it seems obvious to me that a person cannot make an argument one way or the other as to a timbrel’s moral position. Let’s be clear about this: nowhere does the Bible categorically and explicitly condemn drums or syncopation or rhythm. It's just not there.

Now, one could, perhaps, rightfully make the argument that a drumbeat is evil, but such a claim would not be based on the Bible. I wish people would recognize this. (Again: I want to make it clear that this doesn't necessarily mean a drumbeat is acceptable. All I am saying is that when a person makes the claim that drums are unholy, the source for their claim is not the Bible. It’s important we recognize this.)

Again, this comes back to epistemology. Are we going to simply use the Bible as the way we know what we know about music, or are we going to allow testimony from other sources (ie., science, music psychology, Ellen White, etc.).

Now, it is fine if we want to rely upon other sources. But we just need to recognize that we are doing this and not be caught making the claim that the “Bible condemns drums” or that your type of worship is “not worship according to the Bible.” I do believe that the Bible lays down principles for appropriate worship, but I am not sure that the Bible, alone, is enough for us to make black-and-white statements about whether other people’s worship is holy or not.

With that being said, I am of the conviction that there is an objective criteria by which music can be judged. I am not saying that I have discovered that criteria. It’s just that I do not buy the argument that music is a subjective art and one that is governed purely by “personal taste.” It seems to me that music is not necessarily “morally neutral.” Though I am not necessarily talking about syncopation or rhythm or the drumbeat, I think it is fairly obvious that music has the power to elicit certain emotional responses from individuals, whether they realize it or not. And when such a truth is realized, musicians must not be careless in how their music is composed, performed, or presented.

To this end, Wolfgang Stefani writes,

From a Christian viewpoint, emotions like anger, hate, fear, love, or joy are not intrinsically good or bad. However, to present the lyric, “Jesus loves me this I know” with an accompanying musical/emotional message of fear and suspense would not simply be a harmless mismatch of cognitive and affective communication. According to Christian belief it would surely be crass misrepresentation of the Gospel (especially in light of 1 John 4:18) and hence, morally wrong, not merely aesthetically poor. The same would be true if lyrics about Jesus’ love for humanity were presented accompanied by music portraying anger, violence, and aggression. Such mixed messages provide a confused communication of truth that is morally reprehensible, not just a matter of taste (“Is Music Morally Neutral,” in Here We Stand, p. 407).

But what this also tells me is that “worship wars” need not be wars at all. If the Bible does not categorically condemn certain “types” of music, this leads me to believe that music is not a moral issue, per se. And it certainly isn’t an issue worth alienating relationships over. Let me explain what I mean.

If I was at a “Christian concert,” and the musician brought his son or daughter on to the stage, took out a knife, and started slashing that child in front of the whole audience, I would be under moral obligation to speak out against this atrocity in a very vocal way. But someone playing a drum on stage is not of the same moral magnitude. And my personal obligation to speak out against it publically—even if music psychology reveals that syncopation has a mesmerizing effect—is not to the same extant.

This reality applies to all areas of ethics and informs my interpersonal relationships. (This is something that I have been grappling with in general as I think about interacting with people who may not be living the same ethical life I am.) One of my battle cries is that I try to “meet people” where they are. This seems to have been Paul’s approach. To the Jew he became a Jew. To those who were “under the law,” he became as one under the law (see 1 Corinthians 9:19-23). Of course, on the other hand, I recognize that you can only go so far in “meeting people where they are.” And this is the whole point: where does one draw the line?

For me, I think it revolves around the moral law—the Ten Commandments. Thus, if I am trying to minister to someone, I might be willing to put up with his/her music—which the Ten Commandments do not address (some might claim that a person’s music may reflect that he/she is worshiping other gods, but a person’s heart and motives cannot be read or judged. Thus, another person’s music—assuming the lyrics do not contradict the moral law—cannot be overtly condemned based on the Ten Commandments)—but I would not be willing to sit quietly by as he/she committed sexually immoral acts on stage.

Paul seems to address this in Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 8 when he talks about food. He starts the former chapter by saying, “Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things.” Quite simply, as the Bible does not make any clear statements on music—to the extent that it does about murder or adultery or stealing—it is, to a large degree, a “doubtful thing.” In other words, as much as “conservatives” would like to believe that music is a “black and white” issue, it is a debatable and “doubtful” topic. If it were so clear, there wouldn’t be a continual debate over it.

Interestingly, what Paul is speaking about in these chapter is “food offered to idols.” He seems to indicate that this subject is disputable. But the irony of it is that, in the Jerusalem counsel, the church leaders already said that Gentiles should not eat food offered to idols. And yet Paul seems to downplay that—much to the chagrin of the “conservatives,” no doubt, who felt they already had a “thus saith the Lord” on the subject.

This tells me that a person has no right to stage a public demonstration when “disputable” music is being performed for worship. He might disagree with that music, and he may even have good reason to disagree with that music, but he has no right to put up a childish fuss over it and march out of an auditorium, with hands over his ears (as some have done in the past), in hopes that the rest of the audience will get the message. Such actions simply alienate and divide. And they are immature. And they are not following the biblical mandate to pursue reconciliation with your brothers or sisters if you have something against them. (UPDATE: I would not fault children for acting in such a way if this is what their parents would have them do. I know of a teenager that left each time these musicians started performing because - I believe - he/she knew this is what his/her parents would have wanted him/her to do had they been there. I think this is very appropriate, since honoring one's parents is a moral command.)

Of course, on the other hand, I think that those on the other side have the responsibility to not “offend” their brothers and sisters when it comes to this issue as well. Paul advised the Romans to “not destroy the work of God for the sake of food” (Romans 14:20). I think the word “music” could be replaced for “food.” He also told the Corinthians that they should “beware les somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak” (1 Cor 8:9).

As an example, I had a dear brother come to me a little while back, after I sang a song for special music in church that had a little drumbeat, requesting that I set a better example and not sing such music. I could have verily easily said, “It was just a little drumbeat. What’s the big deal? The Bible doesn’t condemn this!” That would not have been the loving or Christian thing to do, though. Why would I want to offend and cause division over something that is not a “moral” issue? Why would I want to alienate someone who I am trying to teach the Gospel to because of a stupid drum? I could have pulled out all the arguments as to why drums are not evil, but, though I may have won the “battle,” I probably would have lost the “war.”

Unfortunately, I think too many “liberals” choose to go to war over music, when it is not a hill worth dying on. Simply put, there are bigger fish to fry.

Click here for Part 2.


DAG said...

So what was your response when he told you to "set a better example"?

Anonymous said...

Well said! Music, by its very nature, is controversial; just like an opinion I might have on a particular subject. How would the music be interesting if it didn't have something to be controversial about? The Bible is the single most controversial book we have.
Something like this happened here at Southern during Vespers. There were drums, loud singing, and a few fog machines. Half of the church got up and left. The poor musician was completely bewildered and confused, but continued singing anyway. If there was such a thing as a "greater" sin, who committed the worse sin here?

Anonymous said...

Is there wrong in leaving or resisting what you presume as evil? I will attempt some quick tired thoughts.
1.Worldly association.Those that have converted to Christianity may see Christian "rock" or "country" with its sycopated beat as an oxymoron...because of their experience with that type of music doesn't package well with their new walk with God. The sycopated beat is the broad path of the world...The Christian path is supposed to be narrow. Those that object to this sycopated music may feel like a repeat of Aaron and the Isrealites dancing around the golden calf (were they really dancing?)..Behold..this is the God who led you out of Egypt.
2.Dance/mesmerized association.Most people who listen to syncopated beat music, sway and dance and are mesmerized...somewhat controlled. Observe a rock concert and you will see what i mean. So...what is the point of adding a beat to "Christian" music? Should we sway and dance in our worship to God? After a Christian "Rock" song, is it easy to talk of repentance..preparing to meet Him face to face..the soon time of Jacobs trouble in these last days? It is the next step at a time..that is how we are led from point point B.
3.Source association.It has been said that Satan was the leader of Music in Heaven..should we pattern after the worldly way...The way he has currently designed..and has slowly changed over the years to attempt more control over the masses? Is there a "blessing" OR a pleasing of the corrupt nature of man in the music?
Those that are older are familiar with a time when in the 1980's there were studies on backward masking in Rock music...and most churches did not want to play the "devils" music style. Keith Green seemed to begin the turn around with incorporating the "Christian" and rock style together. Now..the younger generation have grown up and are much more accustomed to the two headed beast.

Also some other thoughts:
If one sang (without the beat)a humble and clear and simple message of Gods sacrifice or of our need of Him; 1.would half or more people stand up and walk out? Why not? If the way i worship God is seen as idol worship to some...would i be willing to set that issue to prayer and study? Would i be willing to put away something i deem not really necessary to make peace with the family of God and perhaps God Himself? We should be careful to let God be the judge of the heart. But remember...Often..the voice of the prophet is not popular...
Popular is what pleases the carnal nature of man.
Anonymously signed

Shawn Brace said...

Hi Jason! Thanks for you checking in and sharing your thoughts. I appreciate your analysis of the situation that happened at Southern. I think you are right on in implying that those who left committed the "greater sin." Again, though I may be a little uncomfortable myself with drums, loud singing, and fog machines, I don't believe it is the loving or Christian thing to put up a public demonstration and alienate the person by walking out. This is not one of those issues where we have a "thus saith the Lord: thou shalt walk out of vespers if someone is using a drum." Such individuals may have made their point, but they certainly have not won the right to carry on intelligent and dispassionate conversation with the person who they disagree with.

If the ultimate goal is to help others see our point on music and have them agree with us, I don't think the way to achieve that is to put up a public "hissy fit" like that. Such just builds barriers and alienates, and certainly doesn't open the other person's heart to their perspective.

Anonymous: thanks for checking in as well! I think some of what I said to Jason applies to your thoughts as well. But let me try to respond to you systematically.

1. Is there anything wrong in leaving or resisting what one presumes as evil? I think Christ must be our model here. Didn't He "eat with sinners"? Didn't He incarnate Himself in sinful human flesh, instead of running away from it? Again, I will emphasize that I do not believe music to be a moral issue to the extant that other clear-cut issues are.

2. I understand your thoughts on "worldly association," and that is fine. However, this is ultimately a subjective analysis. Who determines what is "worldly"? Furthermore, what you have continued to describe about some people's experience seems to be just that: their experience. And I can respect that.

But I think it is important that such individuals be mature enough to separate their personal experiences from the greater call to act in Christ-like love in these types of situations. The Golden Rule must apply. Would these individuals want others to walk out on their performances, making such a public fuss over it?

I have often heard the comparison to contemporary Christian music to the Israelites dancing around the golden calf. And, while I may personally see merit to that argument, I also have to realize that these are not apples-to-apples comparisons. Any time I take an example from the Bible and apply that to anything that is going on in modern times, unless the circumstances are exactly the same in each situation, I must recognize that there is a little subjectivity that is involved. For example: wasn't the main problem with Israel that they were dancing around a GOLDEN CALF - a direct violation of the Ten Commandments ("Thou shalt not make a graven image")? From my experience, no one is dancing around a golden calf in these situations, or anything even remotely close to it.

Of course, one could return by saying that Joshua said their music sounded like "war," and some of us may make this claim about contemporary music at times. But Exodus does not explain to us exactly what the music entailed. And there is nothing in the Bible that says, "If you have this element or that element, or a drumbeat, or electric guitars, then this is the sound of war." Again, there is some subjectivity in applying these principles.

3. The last thing I will say is that I agree with your analysis in your "other thoughts" section. That is why I think it was probably a poor idea to invite such music to be played at a conference like this. People should have known that this music would be offensive to some. We should all be willing to lay something aside if it offends my brother, or causes him to stumble. That's why I go back to Paul when he says that we should not let our "liberty" cause someone to stumble.

Thanks for your thoughts!

Kyle Baldwin said...


I appreciate your comments and I think that you have a point about the subjectivity of music. It really is a difficult issue because we are supposed to live by the Spirit of the law and not the letter and yet the letter is our starting point.

I have one question for you on one of your examples. You said that Paul indicated there was nothing wrong with eating food offered to idols except when it becomes a stumbling block. You then seemed to imply that Paul's point contradicted the Jerusalem Council's point in Acts 15. If this is what you meant I am confused. I read over Acts 15:20 and it does make a connection with idols, but I am not sure that it applies to food. If it does I am thoroughly confused because this seems to pit Paul against the rest of the Apostles.

I am inclined to believe that it is problematic if the early church as a whole was wrong and Paul was right or vice versa. Anyway your thoughts on this subject would be appreciated.

Shawn Brace said...

Kyle, thank you for clearing the fog with me! I was too casual in my observations and this actually clears up something I have personally been confused about for a while. I went back and read Acts 15:20 again and saw that they said that Gentiles were to avoid "things" offered to idols. They don't say food, which I had always assumed they said.

However, this still doesn't clarify things, to some extent. After all, couldn't food be considered a "thing"? What else would they mean by "things" anyway?

Would it be problematic if Paul contradicted the Jerusalem counsel, on the other hand? It wouldn't be the first time he disagreed with the other apostles.

Kyle Baldwin said...


You could be right. "Things" could include food. And yes Paul did disagree with the apostles especially Peter. However I am uncomfortable with choosing between Paul's advice and the other apostles. It is problematic because I feel that it makes me the arbitrator of truth. If I don't like what one part of the bible says can I just go to another part that seems to agree more with my philosophy. I just wish we could find an overarching principle to reconcile the apparent disparity between Paul's words and the Jerusalem Council.

Vasthi said...

Shawn, great writing on a very delicate subject. After studying music (from theory, psychology, history, composition, and performing) for about 15 years, the only thing I can say is that I can't wait to get to heaven to really be able to understand the language of music.....The more I study it, the more I realize how much I don't know.
One of the main reasons that we are where we are in our churches is that for most, the only qualification needed to have an opinion in music or be a music director is to listen and like music. There is no knowledge or instruction required and mere taste rules. Most are not 'skilled musicians' but simply saints who can scratch a guitar or torture a piano.
Like you, I have grappled with the issues of music in church all my life, and in my own congregation, this is a subject that has come between the saints from time to time. Like you describe, we have also had visitors step out of our sanctuary during our Musical Selections (which we don't call special music, because there is really nothing special about it!) ~a recent occasion comes to mind, when a 15 year old was singing a youthful song and I was told (I am the music director in my church) that it was a ‘rock-and-roll’ song. (Of course, this person needed a lesson in music styles!)
Several years ago I began reading books on the subject, as I tried to understand what was happening in our church. Unfortunately, I didn't find enough within our own denomination which resulted on a search for what 'others' were saying. Since then, I have found a wealth of information from many authors, (I have and read over 30 books on the subject) but one that I think is outstanding is Dr. Marva Dawn, who has written many books, two of which I read "A Royal Waste of Time" and "Reaching Out without Dumbing Down". Two other helpful booklets were "Reforming our Worship Music" by Leonard Payton and "Pleasing God in our Worship" by Robert Godfrey. I have to say that after reading mostly non-Adventist authors, I have come to the conclusion that we seem to be ‘missing the boat’ when it comes to worship and for some reason, all these other theologians have figured it out ~and many of the other denominations have come closer to the Biblical model as I understand it (again, I am no theologian, so I continue to search the Scriptures)
Music indeed engages the Spirit, Mind and Body in the form of Melody, Harmony and Rhythm. Depending on which one of these become the dominant part and the controlled part, will result in a particular type of music.
To get a glimpse of how music affects the person, I suggest reading the book "This is your Brain on Music" by Daniel Levitin. It is fascinating if you really want to get deep on how we react to music the way we do.
Regarding the arguments about the use of instruments in the Bible, and what was done and not done, many forget that Israel was a theocracy, and that the stories told are, many times, about secular celebrations and not necessarily of corporate worship or religious celebrations. For example, in the Old Testament, the women were not allowed to be musicians because they were the ones dancing and conducting all the singing during festivities and funerals.
Having said all that, like you, I am in the middle when it comes to music. I see the points made on both sides of the aisle, but I understand the difference between occasions (for example, you would not play Happy Birthday at a Funeral, or Amazing Grace at a Christmas Party) and how each genre has its place and time. Poorly constructed music and lyrics have no place in worship any more than Gregorian Chants do. Yet, I cannot stand hymns and songs being played poorly and deadly in the name of 'tradition'. I think ALL music should be played with a joyful spirit and with skill. I realize that we will never play (or sing) like the angels in heaven, yet, if I am embarrassed to hear poorly performed or composed music how must God feel? He sure has a lot more patience and is willing to overlook our faults more than I do, but He must feel pretty bad about our lack of care and attention to detail.
For the music to be true worship, it has to match the lyrics and be theologically correct. Vain repetition is not sanctioned in the Bible (I am still a student of the Bible, so forgive me if you have a different thought here ;). However, the music still needs rhythm, because just like we need a pulse, music without rhythm is dead, yet, a high pulse (too much rhythm) can cause other health problems. So the best is to have a balanced view of music so that our Spirit, Mind and Body is also balanced -wasn't that God's intended goal (and design) all along?
(PS. As far as me and loud music, I will not attend concerts because I have very sensitive hearing. I guess I didn’t grow up with headphones and MP3 players pounding my ears, so even ear plugs don’t do the trick for me!~After my husband dragged me to a couple of country music concerts he realized how much pain it caused me and we actually walked out on our last one-after paying more money than I am willing to admit! So I can see how some people would not be able to handle loud music and it has nothing to do with self-righteousness)

Ashley said...

I really appreciate all that you stated on this topic. I too was struggling with what to make of my own opinions on the music issue as well as what to make of what happened this weekend. Previously, I came from a church that was divided down the middle between the quote "liberals" and "conservatives." My family was considered to be part of the "liberal" group, and were under constant attack on some point or other of not following proper Adventist etiquette (I'm sure you know what I mean). Growing up with this made me have a distinct rebellious attitude towards what was considered "correct" by the opposite party. In my adolescence, I ventured to try coffee, wear necklaces, eat unhealthy amounts of dairy, and listen to more "rhythmic" forms of praise music, largely driven by a desire to be different from our oppressors. It took until just in the past year or so for God to really get a hold of me to realize I was really rebelling against Him, and not them. He convicted me that to give up dairy, something I held onto dearly, as well as coffee, something I had become addicted to. I do wear an engagement ring, but God has even corrected me when my desires were going beyond a sign of our love to extravagance, and I yielded to His will in that situation. My tastes are becoming softer and softer as far as music goes, but as you said, it did not seem right to make such a huge statement and cause such division. I should also note that while attending PTA I was a part of the Praise Team that was so intensely ridiculed this past weekend. I enjoyed it, for the majority part because it was a really uplifting way to praise God, not because I was feeling rebellious, although emotions such as that did occur. So my history with those folks gave me an even greater reason not to bash them publicly by my behavior. I just couldn't see Jesus doing that. I picture the, "He who is without sin, cast the first stone" scene here. I guess what I am trying to say is that I, like you, am learning what God would have me to believe on this topic, and growing to the place where I let Him mold me, and not the people in my life. God's voice is becoming clearer as the days and years go by, and I am beginning to see who He wants me to be instead of who I would naturally become.

Shawn Brace said...

Kyle, I hear what you're saying. I am uncomfortable with having to choose between two authors or biblical characters. But I'm not sure that we have to do that in this situation. I think there is probably a good explanation with the apparent discrepancy. Perhaps Paul didn't necessarily disagree with the Jerusalem Council, but maybe he was simply saying that we are not to judge others when it comes to this issue and we are to be loving. I don't know . . . I will give some more thought to it.

Vashti: thank you so much for checking in. Your thoughts are invaluable. I'm glad that you have spent a lot of time grappling with this issue - probably more than I have. Thank you for the book recommendations. I just recommended the book "This is Your Brain on Music." It looks interesting - even if there were a number of people on that gave it negative reviews - more than I see on some other books I've ordered.

I hear what you're saying about there being a "vacuum" of Adventist material on this. I have found there to be some material, but the majority of the books seems to have reached their conclusions before writing them, and much of the "research" is anecdotal. Usually the books are written by people who have "come out of" the rock scene, and now have all this ire that they are directing toward that medium. I'm not sure that they are completely objective, however, and most of them take the, "The drumbeat is used by African tribes, therefore it is evil" perspective.

To me, reading a book by someone like this is like reading an anti-Catholic book by someone who was abused by a priest when he was a kid. There may be some truth to what the author is saying, but I'm not sure it is very objective.

Ashley, thank you also for sharing. I'm sorry your experience in the unnamed-though-known-by-me church was so challenging. Though I've received a little negative feedback on this perspective by some people, I don't think it is ever justified to treat people the way that many conservatives treat people, all in the name of being righteous or holy. Don't get me wrong! We need to stand for the right, though the heavens fall, but we must not make it personal or play the part of judge. I find that too many people take this upon themselves, and many suffer from what I call the "prophet syndrome." We are too quick to assume that God has this special message of repentance that we need to share. But, far to often, we are acting with the motivation of self-righteousness, rather than love. I need to guard against this myself.

I find it very enlightening to recognize that whenever Jesus rebuked anyone, He always did it with tears in his eyes and voice. Very rarely do I witness such tears in many of these people who are so quick to judge and condemn.

Shawn Brace said...

Vashti, what I meant to write is that I just "ordered" the book on Amazon. I'm sure you understood this, though!

Vasthi said...

Shawn, yeah, I thought that's what you meant! ;) I agree with you about reading those other kinds of books -you must consider the source, so I never spent too much time on them. I rather read about a deep theological research than about personal opinions or tastes.

Anonymous said...

Shawn, thank you for your deep thoughts.

You mentioned the timbrel . . .In my studies of the Bible, I find that the timbrel was not used as an instrument at the temple or sanctuary sacred services by the Levites. It was only mentioned as being used more as a folk instrument, yes giving glory to God for winning a battle, but it was not on the list for the temple services, there are probably some good reasons why that is.

Also the example of David when he tried to move the ark back to Jerusalem the music was played and I quote from 1 Chron 13:8 8 And David and all Israel played before God with all their might, and with singingc, and with harps, and with psalteries, and with timbrels, and with cymbals, and with trumpets.

then when David found out that things the first time were not done proper after Uzzah was struck down he decided to do it right the second time and have the Levites carry the ark and play the music as God had commanded for these sacred events . . . in 1 Chron 15:16 And David spake to the chief of the Levites to appoint their brethren to be the singers with instruments of musick, psalteries and harps and cymbals, sounding, by lifting up the voice with joy.

Then are many verses discussing who was chosen for the music, it was a time for only best for God.

Notice that one instrument is missing in the second text? The timbrel was not played by the Levites in sacred music. The trumpets were missing as well, although they were used to call people to worship typically from my studies.

My belief is that we as Adventists and Christians have not seen the need to study music, but why not? We study other subjects that are important like what we eat, what we wear, what we take in with our eyes. Satan will decieve with music, that is his specialty . . . so we should know what God wants, and leave Babylon behind. Thanks again Shawn for providing this forum. It is long past due that we think on these things seriously.