What Music?

13 Oct

Do nothing you would not like God to see. Say nothing you would not like God to hear. Write nothing you would not like God to read. Go to no place where you would not like God to find you. Read no book of which you would not like God to say, ‘Show it me.’ Never spend your time in such a way that you would not like to have God say, ‘What art thou doing?'”         

J.C.Ryle, Thoughts for Young Men

Last month there was a discussion on this blog about what kind of music Christians should be listening to. I am not intending to reopen that debate but when I came across this quote I felt it might be applicable, something to help us determine what we should listen to. If J.C. Ryle were alive today is it not plausible he would add “Listen to no music which you would not want to God to find if he borrowed your mp3 player” to his list of advice?

Apparently this is a real mp3 player!

Advertisements

25 Responses to “What Music?”

  1. Daniel Ritchie October 13, 2008 at 8:41 pm #

    I read that quote once in the back of someone’s Bible, but I did not know who the author was. Very well said. We might also add visit no website that you would not want the Lord to see you looking at.

  2. Cromie R October 14, 2008 at 9:30 pm #

    One of my personal goals for the duration of my two-year Music Technology diploma is to learn how to erase the vocals from pieces which have music that I like but contain sinful lyrics…Or maybe, do the reverse with some contemporary Christian songs, which contain God-honouring lyrics but really lazy and formulaic tunes. It’s sad, because Christians should be at the forefront of the music industry, worshiping God with our musical gifts, writing the most beautiful and ground-breaking music, but instead most Christian music that is popular today is pedestrian, dull, watered-down and frankly, a bit rubbish, and is therefore useless as an evangelising tool because anyone with a decent musical ear can recognise it as such.

  3. whereisthechurch October 16, 2008 at 11:21 pm #

    “It’s sad, because Christians should be at the forefront of the music industry, worshiping God with our musical gifts, writing the most beautiful and ground-breaking music”

    Huh?! Are you serious!!?! A Christian “music industry”?!?!

  4. rob dp October 17, 2008 at 5:22 pm #

    if u hav or havnt read art & the Bible by francis a schaeffer, definitely read Art for God’s Sake a call to recover the arts by philip graham ryken.

    that mp3 player tho not exactly the same
    2GB USB SAMSUNG FLASH MP3 i-Cross Necklace on ebay uk
    or on http://www.chinavasion.com

    would like to know more about “Write nothing you would not like God to read.”

  5. Cromie R October 18, 2008 at 12:31 am #

    whereisthechurch;

    I’m not really sure what you’re getting at, whether it’s sarcasm you’re aiming for (as indicated by your extravagant use of punctuation) or whether you believe that secular music is inherently evil. Or some other third thing. Do elaborate, as I’m not great at detecting the tone of conversation on this limited medium.

  6. Cromie R October 18, 2008 at 1:03 am #

    Rob;

    I’ve also heard good things about “Imagine” by Steve Turner (stocked by Galway’s Aisling bookshop, so it must be good), it deals with the same subject. All 3 of those are on my reading list.

  7. SGonly October 18, 2008 at 7:16 pm #

    A common charge against CCM (Contempory Christian Music) is also the message being “shallow”, meaning weak in theology, and centered on personal experience, and the music as a whole being more “entertainment” than anything else (“worldly” values). This is true in many cases, but coming from critics who focus on the sound of music as being decisive, it itself is shallow reasoning, tacked on to add weight to their argument against CCM.

    The biggest double standard is the fact that the “separation from the world” logic with only God-honoring worship music qualifying for listening by Christians would rule out all secular music or music for enjoyment, yet, many of these people have said that the classical is OK for Christians, and America’s national anthems and various other similar songs are also acceptable.

    So contemporary Christian music is bad, but traditional secular music is OK! As they will later admit, the “world” does produce “acceptable” music.

  8. whereisthechurch October 19, 2008 at 12:55 am #

    Cromie R,

    Trust me, it’d definately not sarcasm! The thought of Christians being part of/leading the ‘music industry’ is somewhat alarming!

  9. Cromie R October 19, 2008 at 9:53 pm #

    Why is it alarming? What makes the musical profession so different from any other “secular” job? Does the Bible say that it’s sinful to create music? From what I can see, it pretty much says the opposite (Psalm 150)! If we are a Christian, in every area of your life we should be aiming to bring glory to God (hence my placing of the word secular in quotes), and if He has given us a talent in music, what a sin it is not to use it to the best of our ability! The music industry (and for that matter, all of the Arts), I believe, is in dire need of more Christians to get involved, to be shining lights and witness for Him in a dark and sinful place. With our knowledge of God’s grace in choosing to save us, should we not be even more inspired to make music than an atheist who believes that the world happened by chance? Do you believe that no Christian should be involved professionally in any of the Arts?

  10. James October 20, 2008 at 6:23 pm #

    I had said I wasn’t keen on reopening this debate but this is great as Cromie (who knows a lot more about music than I do) is arguing my positionon this matter better than I could. Feel free to continue!

  11. whereisthechurch October 20, 2008 at 11:32 pm #

    Cromie R,

    To answer your skillfully worded questions…

    “What makes the musical profession so different from any other “secular” job?

    The same reason that makes prostitution different from other “secular” employment.

    As you point out elsewhere in your post, everything is to be done to the Glory of God. I’m not quite convinced that making instrumental, worldly rubbish is of any use or interest to a Holy God. How does it magnify His name or glory in any way?

    “Does the Bible say that it’s sinful to create music?”

    Now there’s a cleverly worded question – Of course it doesn’t. However, where does it say that we are to make music for our own entertainment, enjoyment and employment?

    “If He has given us a talent in music, what a sin it is not to use it to the best of our ability!”

    So, by the same logic, someone who is ‘talented’ at lapdancing is sinning by not using their talents? ;)

    “Should we not be even more inspired to make music than an atheist who believes that the world happened by chance?”

    Yes… but not worldly atheistic music.

    “Do you believe that no Christian should be involved professionally in any of the Arts?”

    That depends… which ‘art’ are we talking about?

  12. Cromie R October 21, 2008 at 2:10 am #

    whereisthechurch,

    I’m finding your point of view hard to comprehend, and quite disconcerting. I’ve certainly never heard any other Christian express similar sentiments.

    I’m going to concentrate on one of your questions, the one I feel is the most important.

    “I’m not quite convinced that making instrumental, worldly rubbish is of any use or interest to a Holy God. How does it magnify His name or glory in any way?”

    Let’s concentrate on purely instrumental music for the time being (I don’t write lyrics to any of my own music, I’m not gifted in that way). If I am writing the music with God in mind, or being inspired by Creation, for example, surely this is not worldly? My musical praise can never be perfect, yet we are instructed to “Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre” – Psalm 150:4. What I’m trying to get at is this; why does my music have to be instrumental, worldly rubbish? Why can’t human music praise God? Please read on before answering this one…

    I’m sure you are familiar with The Pilgrim’s Progress, written by John Bunyan (a well-known, self-confessed human). I’m sure you’ll agree that it is a wonderful allegorical story, which paints an accurate picture of the Christian life, and all the highs and lows contained therein. Now, if I was to sit down, think deeply about it, pray to the Lord for guidance, and consult older, wiser believers for advice, and then proceed to write a piece of music, purely instrumental, which tells a similar tale, using various themes and motifs to portray the many joys, and trials, of Christian life, would this be a sin? Do you believe that the Pilgrim’s Progress, as a work of Art, even though it is not perfect, brings glory to God? If so, why can’t a piece of music do the same? And, while I’m not sure on this point, it’s a fair assumption that John Bunyan received some sort of financial renumeration for his work; therefore, he was a professional. What is the difference between a human Christian author, and a human Christian musician?

    I am, I have to admit, thankful for our disagreement. It has motivated me to think deeply about my use of my musical gift, and my reasons for believing what I believe about music. I believe God has called me to a career in Music, and the circumstances in which I found myself while trying to get into my course only heighten this conviction. God used poor exam results in my previous course, and a lack of proper Christian fellowship in Dublin, to convince me that I needed to change direction. When I applied for my course in Belfast, I discovered there were 5 remaining places available, with over 80 people interested. I was all for backing out, but I just had this “gut feeling” that I should go along to the admissions test and just have a go. To my amazement, I got a call the next day to tell me that I had got in; in the group of 80+, I had placed 2nd in the test results! I believe that this was God over-ruling in my life, and that it was His will that I study Music.

    James, I’m sorry for clogging your blog with so many words, I’m not the sort who usually comments on blog posts, but I feel this is an important issue, so I hope you’ll forgive me!

  13. James October 21, 2008 at 9:23 pm #

    Feel free to carry on Cromie.

    I’m slightly bemused by the comparison whereisthechurch (henceforth refered to as WITC) makes between prostitution and the music industry. Care to elaborate WITC?

  14. Daniel Ritchie October 21, 2008 at 11:36 pm #

    WITC is making something of a false antithesis here. Prostitution is condemned in the Bible as a sinful abuse of sex (one of God’s gifts). Music is a gift of God being part of His world (Psa. 24), so why shouldn’t man enjoy it?

  15. Erin October 24, 2008 at 5:12 pm #

    omw… i love that mp3 player… that is so cute! is that the one you have james?

  16. James October 24, 2008 at 5:47 pm #

    Yea, I keep it alongside my icthus fish-shaped mobile phone!

  17. whereisthechurch October 26, 2008 at 9:37 pm #

    Cromie R,

    In response to your post,

    “I’m finding your point of view hard to comprehend, and quite disconcerting. I’ve certainly never heard any other Christian express similar sentiments.”

    What’s hard to comprehend? I don’t believe Christians should be listening to secular music, nor should they be worshipping God with instruments. It’s fairly similar to the traditional RP views, except I don’t agree with exclusive psalmody.

    Why is it disconcerting? Is it because my beliefs are not mainstream Christian beliefs in this day and age? Take a look outside of modern-day,worldly church thinking and you’ll find a good number of highly-regarded Christians hold/held to similar views.

    “What I’m trying to get at is this; why does my music have to be instrumental, worldly rubbish? Why can’t human music praise God?”

    Now, hold on a second… I NEVER said that man-made music can’t praise God – I only hold to the view that instrumental, worldly trash doesn’t praise God.

    “I’m sure you are familiar with The Pilgrim’s Progress, written by John Bunyan (a well-known, self-confessed human). I’m sure you’ll agree that it is a wonderful allegorical story, which paints an accurate picture of the Christian life, and all the highs and lows contained therein. Now, if I was to sit down, think deeply about it, pray to the Lord for guidance, and consult older, wiser believers for advice, and then proceed to write a piece of music, purely instrumental, which tells a similar tale, using various themes and motifs to portray the many joys, and trials, of Christian life, would this be a sin?”

    I don’t quite agree that solely-instrumental music can tell sophisticated tales in the first place – despite what those intellectuals at university might tell you!

    “Do you believe that the Pilgrim’s Progress, as a work of Art, even though it is not perfect, brings glory to God? If so, why can’t a piece of music do the same?

    Yes. (Although I detest it being called ‘Art’)

    Why can’t music do the same? Well, it can, but it just depends on what type of ‘music’ we’re talking about!
    If you take a look back at the conversation that James and I had on another post, you’ll find that James also made a comparison between books and music. I do not believe that a proper comparison can be made between the two subjects as they are distinctly different and were created for entirely separate purposes.

    “And, while I’m not sure on this point, it’s a fair assumption that John Bunyan received some sort of financial renumeration for his work; therefore, he was a professional. What is the difference between a human Christian author, and a human Christian musician?”

    I’d call that a very bad assumption, based on modern-day church thinking! You’ll find that the profits of books written by the likes of Bunyan, Wesley etc were mainly given to missionary work and rarely (if at all) was anything kept for ‘personal missionary’ use! Secondly, I doubt John Bunyan ever intended to model himself as a ‘Christian Author’. Bunyan, was first and foremost, a God-ordained preacher who also wrote books about the Christian faith. You must also realise that Pilgrim’s Progress was written during Bunyan’s imprisonment – so to imply that John Bunyan was a ‘professional author’ who profited from his works, is absurd.

    James,

    In response to your post,

    “I’m slightly bemused by the comparison whereisthechurch (henceforth refered to as WITC) makes between prostitution and the music industry. Care to elaborate WITC?”

    If you insist…

    Both industries are filthy, immoral, drug-fuelled, sin-seeking, lustful, explicit, hate-filled cesspits – supported by the devil in the hope of leading men away from salvation and into a deeper life of sin. At least prostitution is somewhat honest about its wickedness though… the music industry on the other hand…

    Daniel Ritchie,

    In response to your post,

    “WITC is making something of a false antithesis here. Prostitution is condemned in the Bible as a sinful abuse of sex (one of God’s gifts). Music is a gift of God being part of His world (Psa. 24), so why shouldn’t man enjoy it?”

    You might want to take some time to read my posts before putting words in my mouth! Indeed, YOU have made the false antithesis here by implying that I compared prostitution to music. I NEVER even contemplated saying such a thing. I compared the music INDUSTRY to the prostitution INDUSTRY – that’s quite a difference my friend!

  18. Cromie R October 27, 2008 at 3:21 am #

    WITC;

    Firstly, I stand corrected on John Bunyan, I assumed much while knowing little, mea culpa.

    I fully agree that there is a lot of secular lyrical music that Christians should stay well clear of, and much of it is to be found in the charts and on the radio, so we have to be especially careful.

    But I think Daniel sums it up very well; “Music is a gift of God being part of His world (Psa. 24), so why shouldn’t man enjoy it?” This is the reason I find your views disconcerting; I think you’re devaluing part of Creation, and missing the point of Music a bit, and therefore missing out on something that I believe it’s not wrong to enjoy. There are multiple references to musical instruments throughout the Bible (for example, David was a talented harpist); do you think they would be there if it was wrong to use them at any time? It’s not that I’m worried about whether your views are mainstream Christian or not, I just worry that they don’t correspond with what Scripture says concerning music.

    Let’s just take one more of the little real-life examples, of which I appear to be so fond, to finish with. I am typing these words on my Apple laptop. Let’s say that the designer of this laptop is an atheist. Therefore, he created the laptop not to bring glory to God, but rather, on the most basic level, he did so to earn his wage. Yet it is possible to use said laptop to God’s glory, appreciate the skill required by the designer, and the gifts God gave him which enabled him to complete his task. Wouldn’t you agree?

    Now, let’s replace the word “designer” with “composer”, and “laptop” with “instrumental piece”.

    Let’s say that the composer of this instrumental piece is an atheist. Therefore, he created/composed the piece not to bring glory to God, but rather, on the most basic level, he did so to earn his wage. Yet it is possible to use/listen to/play said piece to God’s glory, appreciate the skill required by the composer, and the gifts God gave him which enabled him to complete his task. Wouldn’t you agree?

    I don’t really want to argue with you anymore, there is a lot more I could say in response to your views, but you’ve clearly thought your position through, and let’s face it, I’m not going to convince you to change your mind and listen to Tchaikovskiy or Sigur Rós (the 2 “secular” artists who I think made/make the most beautiful music) just by typing long and wordy posts on a blog. I’d rather chat about it in person. But I hope you will continue to think about it, and I pray that you will be led to see that creating music, or playing a musical instrument, or listening to instrumental music, is not fundamentally wrong.

  19. Daniel Ritchie October 27, 2008 at 9:55 am #

    WITC

    “I compared the music INDUSTRY to the prostitution INDUSTRY – that’s quite a difference my friend!”

    Regardless of whether you said music or the music industry, your point is equally ridiculous. Are you saying that somebody who sells music is comparable to a prostitute?

  20. Daniel Ritchie October 27, 2008 at 9:57 am #

    And I am not sure why you accuse me of putting words in your mouth, as you are comparing a use of music to immoral sex acts.

  21. Anonymous November 7, 2008 at 12:04 am #

    Cromie R,

    I must apologies for only replying now – but unfortunately, I can only post as circumstances permit.

    “But I think Daniel sums it up very well; “Music is a gift of God being part of His world (Psa. 24), so why shouldn’t man enjoy it?” This is the reason I find your views disconcerting; I think you’re devaluing part of Creation, and missing the point of Music a bit, and therefore missing out on something that I believe it’s not wrong to enjoy.”

    I have never condemned music – except when it’s music produced by the lifeless, mechanical machines of man, performed by secular artists.

    “There are multiple references to musical instruments throughout the Bible (for example, David was a talented harpist); do you think they would be there if it was wrong to use them at any time? It’s not that I’m worried about whether your views are mainstream Christian or not, I just worry that they don’t correspond with what Scripture says concerning music.”

    I have never said that musical instruments were always wrong. They were necessary in worship before Christ came.
    Where do my views not correspond with scripture? If you use the instrumental music as used in temple worship, then I assume that you also practice animal sacrifice?

    “Let’s just take one more of the little real-life examples, of which I appear to be so fond, to finish with. I am typing these words on my Apple laptop. Let’s say that the designer of this laptop is an atheist. Therefore, he created the laptop not to bring glory to God, but rather, on the most basic level, he did so to earn his wage. Yet it is possible to use said laptop to God’s glory, appreciate the skill required by the designer, and the gifts God gave him which enabled him to complete his task. Wouldn’t you agree?”

    Again, you’re trying to compare music to something completely irrelevant. Anyhow, Paul was a tentmaker – it didn’t mean his tents were any godlier than an unbeliever’s.

    “I don’t really want to argue with you anymore, there is a lot more I could say in response to your views, but you’ve clearly thought your position through, and let’s face it, I’m not going to convince you to change your mind and listen to Tchaikovskiy or Sigur Rós (the 2 “secular” artists who I think made/make the most beautiful music) just by typing long and wordy posts on a blog. I’d rather chat about it in person. But I hope you will continue to think about it, and I pray that you will be led to see that creating music, or playing a musical instrument, or listening to instrumental music, is not fundamentally wrong.”

    Likewise, it’s been an enjoyable exchange of views.

  22. Anonymous November 7, 2008 at 12:23 am #

    Daniel,

    “Regardless of whether you said music or the music industry, your point is equally ridiculous. Are you saying that somebody who sells music is comparable to a prostitute?”

    What I’m saying is…

    The drug-fuelled, lust-driven, sin-practicing, greedy, money-grabbing, hypocritical, devil-worshipping, adulterous, explicit, depraved artists, producers and executives of the music industry have no moral high ground over the wicked, perverted, men and women who make adultery and sexual immorality their business. Both industries are equally ghastly and are a cancer of this world which has wandered after life’s pleasures.

    In fact, I would go on to say that the music industry has more damage to the Church in the past 50 years than prostitution has since it’s beginning.

    Secular music is one of Satan’s most subtle tools in tricking men and women into a life of depravity – where the rhythmic beats and explicit lyrics numb all sense of sin and holiness.

    “And I am not sure why you accuse me of putting words in your mouth, as you are comparing a use of music to immoral sex acts.”

    There you go again…

    Please read this one more time –

    “I compared the music INDUSTRY to the prostitution INDUSTRY – that’s quite a difference my friend!”

    I did NOT compare the USE OF MUSIC to immoral sex acts.

  23. Daniel Ritchie November 7, 2008 at 7:56 pm #

    Mr Anonymous

    I do not deny that much in the music industry is evil, but the same can be said about virtually any line of work. It is the Christians duty to rule and subdue music for the glory of God; if the righteous do nothing, then the wicked have dominion.

  24. passing through February 20, 2009 at 6:28 am #

    srry to bring this up again but i just found this site and was looking through it and thought i would leave my little two cents…so my apologies if this is completely off the wall…

    anon,
    although i really do like the creative use of disparaging terms for the two industries being discussed here, but you seem to be forgetting a little something. you’re human too, whether you like it or not, and as the Bible says, all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. thus you and i are just as ‘good’ as all the prostitutes and murderers and other ‘bad’ people out there, because sins are not better or worse in the sight of God. i agree that the afore-mentioned industries themselves are horrid and awful, but they were created by humans just like us. that’s pretty much all i have to say about that part of this, so now i suppose i’ll move on to the music part…

    the reason we were even made was to worship God, right? so shouldn’t we worship Him however we feel the most comfortable? church songs are great and all, but these days the growing youth of the world like hip-hop and rap and rock and all sorts of other ‘secular’ types of music. one has to remember that just because the lyrics are not necessarily ‘acceptable,’ doesn’t mean that the music itself is all that awful and ‘evil,’ as some may think. there are actually many Christian artists out there that praise God with their music and singing; they sure don’t think it’s wrong to praise God by giving Him their all, and using the gifts He has given them to bring glory to his Name. in fact, instead of blabbing about the theological (or whatever) correctness of it all, some Christians have come up with what i think is an ingenious solution. there is a fantastic radio station stationed in Columbus, Ohio, USA, that plays all Christian music and tells those who listen to it all about God, His Word, and how to become a Christian. it’s called RadioU, and there is also a television station that plays Christian music videos on it called TVU. in order to reach out to the people of this generation, they play Christian music that teens and others WANT to listen to. rap, rock, heavy metal (on some nights), and other kinds of music is played, all full of the message of the Gospel, and all while the dj tells the listeners about Christ and what He can do for them. thus, the music industry is slowly but surely making a comeback! the station is non-profit, so they count on the support of their listeners in order to keep running, and currently have seven, soon to be eight, stations running out of Ohio and California. also, the music can be streamed through the computer, so people all over the world can be reached and impacted through the great work they are doing.
    so, anyway, i’m sorry for ranting like that, but i just thought you all should know that God hasn’t given up on us, and we haven’t given up on the music industry. anon-if you still think that music is ‘evil’ or whatever, please listen to that station (don’t give up on it just by how it may sound at first, please!) and see if you change your mind a little bit. i know that i personally really enjoy listening to the songs that are played on there, and love to worship God while listening to that station, but if others have a different opinion, that’s okay, too. please do not give up on us yet, though! i certainly haven’t done so yet, and you shouldn’t either! have a little faith! miracles CAN happen! even in a world as secular as our own.
    :)

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Courtship and Christian Music « Another King - January 26, 2010

    […] These were on Josh Harris‘ blog (which possibly makes the first one even funnier) and I found them pretty amusing.  He did encounter the usual problem of people taking themselves too seriously after posting the Christian music cartoon so just to clarify I’m not trying to re-open a can of worms! […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s