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Against Music*
by Greg Gilbert

I think the entire evangelical world ought to put a moratorium on any kind of instrumental music, and just chant psalms in their worship services—for the next ten years.*
I’ve been amazed since becoming an elder in a local church just how dependent many Christians are on a certain style of music, or certain level of excellence in music. How many times have you heard someone say, for example, “I just can’t worship in that church.”? Or “I just don’t feel like I’m connecting with God there.”
Of course there can be a lot going on there, but I think that many times if you press in on statements like that, what you find behind it all is not very far removed from “I don’t like the music there.” People don’t put it that starkly, mainly because if you do it sounds silly. But I think that’s a lot of what people mean when they say, “I can’t worship there.” The reality is that a single flat-back piano just doesn’t gig their emotions as much as a full electric band does. They don’t get that “transcendent feeling,” so they get discouraged and end up saying they “can’t worship.”
I wonder if the whole “excellence in praise and worship music” phenomenon we’ve seen over the past few years—for all the good it’s done—hasn’t also had some less-than-desirable effects on young Christians. I wonder if it hasn’t created a generation of functional mystics who gauge their relationship with God by emotional experience rather than the objective reality of redemption.
When I was a sophomore and junior in college, I went to a few of the Passion conferences when they were held in Texas. Those were formative and amazing experiences for me. John Piper “Reformed” me in one earth-shaking sermon from Romans 3, and that has—in one way or another—shaped the trajectory of my life ever since. And the music was excellent—truly wonderful in every way. We sang loud, hands in the air, eyes closed and full of tears sometimes, and I believe I worshipped God through it all.
But then I went back to New Haven, Connecticut. The praise bands were gone, I didn’t have a group of people who’d gone with me and shared that experience, and the churches had a piano and thirty people singing Isaac Watts hymns. That forced me to learn how to stoke the fires of worship with truths and words, and not just with excellent music. I’ve learned how to be emotionally affected by the excellent words of hymns whether they’re played and sung “excellently” or not.
There’s a whole generation of young people out there now, though, who aren’t emotionally affected by words, whose fires are only stoked when those words are accompanied by great rhythms, skilled instrumentation, and a certain well-recognizable mood that typically accompanies Christian “praise-and-worship.” And the result is that you have young people church-hopping around town, and one of the main criteria of their shopping is “the worship,” by which more often than not they mean “the music.” You have young Christians feeling discouraged because—despite the fact that they sit under faithful preaching of the word Sunday after Sunday—they say they haven’t “felt close to God” in so long. Maybe there’s something important going on there. But there’s also a good chance, I’d argue, that they just haven’t had a good endorphin rush since the last conference they attended.
I am really afraid that we’ve managed to create a generation of anemic Christians who are spiritually dependent on excellent music. Their sense of spiritual well-being is based on feeling “close to God,” their feeling close to God is based on their “ability to worship,” and being able to worship depends on big crowds singing great music.
Just as bad, think about how many church fights and divisions are rooted in disagreements about music. People leave churches because they don’t like the music. Christians who believe exactly the same things about Jesus worship in different buildings next door to each other because they can’t countenance one another’s musical style. Churches split because one faction wants “contemporary” music and another wants “traditional” music. It’s not the words that are at issue; it’s how the words are sung, and to what instrumentation. The thing even has its own name—the “Worship Wars,” which when translated with a little honesty is really “the Music Wars.”
The bottom line, I suppose, is that it would do every Christian well to do some honest heart-searching about what makes them feel “close to God.” Can you feel close to God just by reading or saying the words, “In Christ Jesus you who were once far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”? Would you be able to function in a church that’s great in every way except the music? If not, you probably need to give some thought to whether your spiritual life is dependent on something it should not be dependent on.
*I'm being facetious with the title of this post and the call for a moratorium on music, of course. The Bible tells us to sing. God gave us music precisely because it affects our hearts and emotion, and that is a good thing. But every good thing can be and will be misused by sinful humans. My sense is that "excellent music" has become something of an idol. No, we don't worship it. But alot of people need it to worship, and that may be just as bad. Music is a part of our lives as humans; in a certain way we'll always depend on it. But as I see it, there's ample anecdotal evidence out there to suggest that for many Christians, the dependence has become unhealthy.
E a resposta aos comentários, tirada daqui.
Some More Thoughts on Music
by Greg Gilbert
I want to thank all of you who linked to my post below with lines like “Greg Gilbert comes out against music.” Or “See here why Greg Gilbert wants to kick all music out of the church.” That’ll do me wonders someday when somebody googles me to find out what wacky things I believe! So thanks again.
Seriously, given the conversation that’s ensued, I thought I’d offer up a few questions that might help all of us consider whether we’ve allowed our own hearts to become too dependent on music for our sense of spiritual wellbeing. Please don’t treat these like a Seventeen magazine “profile” or something. They’re not a checklist; there’s no scorebox at the bottom. All the questions aren’t even necessarily aimed at every person; not every one of them will be useful to you. Some are aimed at the person who doesn’t particularly like the music at their church. Others are aimed at people who love the music they hear at church week in and week out. These questions also aren’t meant to be exhaustive; they don’t come at this from every conceivable angle. They’re just a few questions that I hope might help you to think. Maybe you have others that help you keep a check on your own heart.
One last thing: Again, I’m not wishing here for a music-less Christian life, or for a Christian life with less music or even softer, simpler music. I love music; I think we were created as musical beings. In fact, if you forced me to pick, I personally prefer really plugged-in contemporary music to any other style. Bob Kauflin and Sovereign Grace, for example, are making some of the most wonderful, God-honoring, Christ-exalting music available today, and I love hearing and singing their songs, whether it’s in my own church, at some other event, or even over and over again on my own iPOD.
So I think music is a good thing, even a great thing. But as I said before, every good thing in this world can and will be misused by sinful human beings. And I think that’s something that’s deserving of thought among Christians when it comes to music. My hope is that these questions, and the thoughts they provoke in you, will help you to be on guard against your spiritual life becoming unhealthily dependent on anything it should not be dependent on. I hope they're helpful to you:
- Do you get bored when someone reads a longish passage of Scripture in your church? Do you start wishing they’d get on with the music?
- Do you need music playing in the background for the reading of Scripture to affect your emotions?
- Does a prayer seem too “plain” or “stark” to you if it doesn’t have music playing behind it?
- Do you feel depressed a few weeks after a worship conference because you haven’t felt close to God in a long time?
- Do you desperately look forward to the next conference you’re going to attend because you know that, finally, you’ll be able to feel close to God again?
- If you’re in a big church with great music, are you able to worship when you visit your parents’ small rural church?
- Do you ever feel worshipful in the middle of the week, at work, at school, etc. just because of thinking about God and his grace? Or does that only happen when the music’s playing?
- Do you tend to feel closer to God when you’re alone with your iPOD than you do when you’re gathered with God’s people in your church?
- Do you feel like you just can’t connect with other believers who haven’t had the same “worship experiences” that you have? Can you only connect with other believers who “know what it feels like to really worship?”
- Is your sense of spiritual well-being based more on feeling close to God, or knowing that you are close to God because of Jesus Christ?
E pensemos um pouco na nossa experiência e nas implicações do que foi discutido.
publicado por wherewego às 14:22

Ontem revi e vi alguns novos episódios de uma série mítica para os britânicos.
O Barry emprestou-me há demasiado tempo, sorry pela demora, a série completa de Father Ted.
Father Ted é uma excelente série de comédia sobre a vida de três padres, numa ilha irlandesa.
Ted sente-se perdido no meio do nada e o seu sonho é ser padre nos EUA, Dougal é um pobre calhau, que pouco sabe ou entende e tem imensas dúvidas sobre a fé e Jack, um padre mais idoso, que só tem quatro interesses na vida, álcool, bebida, mulheres e dormir.
Há também a deliciosa Mrs. Doyle, a mulher que lida a casa e faz, e obriga a beber, chá a todas as horas do dia.
Uma excelente série de humor.

publicado por wherewego às 12:07

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