Coloratura Christian

I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed. (Psalm 34:4-5)

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

A Response to a Thoughtful Comment

Elisha brought up some great points about style and worship music in her comment on my last post. My response was getting so lengthy that I thought I would just make a new post.

I am still processing my thoughts on the issue of music style in the church service, and this article by Leonard Payton has made me think about some issues that previously I have not thought about to any great extent.

Just to be clear, this is not a hymns verses choruses controversy. Payton is not against contemporary music, in fact he is advocating the creation of new church music either from high culture which is "fundamentally concerned with beauty and form" or folk culture which is concerned with "wholesomeness of community." He is against modeling church music on Christian pop culture because he believes it is money driven. He says, "The artist is not primarily held accountable to God for a transcendent standard of beauty, nor to a local community with ethical responsibility. Rather, the artist must answer to the share holder."

While the Christian artist’s intentions may be good, he says:

The problem is not their intentions, but rather their lines of accountability. There is little potential for church discipline when these people spread some marginal or outright false teaching (which occurs more frequently than anyone cares to admit). Whenever anyone teaches in the church, as Christian music most certainly does, that person displays a low view of the depravity of man when his teaching ministry is accountable to shareholders rather than to ecclesiastical authorities. So it comes as no surprise that we have high-visibility moral lapses inside the Christian music industry that are handled with patchy results. And this crisis has overtaken us because our church discipline is flaccid and we are lax in protecting the doctrinal purity of the church through its music component of the ministry of the Word. This is what happens when we remove the outside authority of Scriptures and of scripturally ordained ecclesiastical authorities.

His point is that music made popular by Christian pop stars should not be so easily transported into the church worship service because marketing and selling are deciding factors in how this music created. It is much better to create music within the church community, for the church community, under the authority of the church elders who strive to protect truth.

As for my views on Christian pop singers, I'm not dead set against them. There are some that I like and listen to because their lyrics are biblical and Christ centered and I find I'm refreshed and encouraged by listening to them. But with the large majority, I find that their image and sound is really just a cheap imitation of a current secular pop star. Their music is often phony and affected, and full of bad theology. So I guess I do have a problem with the mass of Christian pop music used in mainstream evangelical churches.

I'm very thankful for the initiative of godly men and women recently who have labored to compose some quality contemporary music for the church. Some examples would be Bob Kauflin, Marc Heinrich, Abraham Piper , D.A. Carson, Stuart Townend and many others.


  • At December 11, 2005, Blogger Marlene S. said…

    Thanks Christel for some provocative ideas concerning what we are singing on Sunday mornings. Last week in my bible study, a friend mentioned her immediate connection to the songs at our church when she started attending a few years ago. Her background does not include hymns, or songs with meatier lyrics. She has come to church with a genuine faith and an exceptionally bright mind. As such, the choruses and occasional hymns have expressed her heart's desire and longings. However I wonder if she would not benefit even more by singing to her Lord with words that would engage her mind at an even deeper level (particularly when I consider the very bright mind God has granted her). Nonetheless, she is worshipping...praise the Lord. She is growing... and maybe as "meatier songs" are increasingly written & sung, her expressions through music will become even more satisfying times with God.


Post a Comment

<< Home