Question: “What music is or isn’t acceptable and why it is the case?”
Bill’s perspectives on music are never far from the discussion, often cited as the first thing that those that oppose him rejected. He is known for his condemnation of all rock music, Christian or otherwise, counting it as one of the gravest challenges to the modern church. With respect to precisely what is “in” or “out”, even among rank and file ATI families there is not unanimity; there are differences of perspectives among our own moderator group.
The following is not intended to be an exhaustive treatment of the topic, rather being highlights, data points from my own testimony.
Many believe music to be “amoral”, something of no consequence spiritually. So, first of all, one has to be convinced that music matters to God. Several Scriptures to ponder:
1. David’s harp music drove an evil spirit away, repeatedly, the only thing that worked (1 Samuel 16)
2. Elisha called for a minstrel to get ready for a great miracle – during the music the Holy Spirit fell on him and the miracle happened (2 Kings 3:15)
3. Lucifer (Satan) was specially created with/for music (Ezekiel 28:13 – “tablets and pipes” are musical instruments)
4. Paul commands music for Christians (Ephesians 5:19)
5. Harping in heaven (Rev. 5:8, 14:2)
Added to this are empirical evidences of the spiritual nature of music which I will admit are risky. Yet when you have even one modern example of music linked with demons or angels that you are convinced is real, it affects you.
Bill has his example of natives in the jungle approaching a missionary grieved that his children were calling the evil spirits . . . All they heard was Christian rock music, unable to understand the words. I have seen an affidavit from the one who experienced this and testified to the veracity of the account. Lesson: natives skilled in calling up evil spirits recognize the rock beat as a key.
My favorite is what was told in the story and movie “End of the Spear”, the “rest of the story” of the brutal jungle attack on the 5 missionaries in Ecuador in the 1950s that took the life of Jim Elliot. Nate Saint was also killed – through the contact and efforts of his son Steve the natives decades later finally disclosed the full account from their side. Part of this included visions of shining beings that appeared at the scene and frightened the natives, as alluded to in the movie. What is not told in the movie was an event years after the murders. One of the women there during the attack heard Christian choir music for the first time in Rachel Saint’s (Nate’s sister) home coming from a record player. She immediately recognized it as the singing they had heard of the shining “Cowadi”, foreigners that appeared as the men were dying. Read it and draw your own conclusion. “Angels, Yes, I Think It Was Angels” By Steve Saint January 30, 2002. Lesson: choir music appears to be of heavenly origin.
The point there is that music is far more than vibration of atoms – it is a unique area where the spiritual world and the physical world are both affected directly by same thing. Physical music is, or at least can be, spiritual.
If God cares about music, created it, then we do well to try to understand it from His perspectives. Almost everyone would sense that some music drags you up and other music drags you down. Some does neither. In an attempt to explain this Bill came up with this list of the components of music:
Melody – from the spirit, the spiritual world
Harmony – from the soul (emotions), the psychological world
Rhythm – from the body, the physical world
If you accept this then you can start analyzing music as good or not good based on:
- Is the melody dominant or secondary – master or slave?
- Does the rhythm control, drive the music? If so it will excite the body.
- Is the melody from the “light side” or the “dark side”? There are dark spiritual forces that like music. Bill questions heavy use of minor keys as depressing.
- Is there a heavy back beat or syncopation? That is opposite to the heart beat, and Bill sees this as producing sensual tension.
Bill suggests march music, with a dominant beat, is fine, being balanced by an equally strong melody. Some of the music he featured – southern Gospel – had definite syncopation . . . But not in a dominant role.
And then there are the origins of rock music . . . And it’s predecessor, jazz. Bill is much into roots, origins as an indication, indictment of the fruit. That “Rock and Roll” is a gutter term for the sex act is pretty obvious. Although there is hardly a consensus on every detail, Jazz music and most likely the term itself sprang out of the brothels of New Orleans.
Here is my analogy:
Beat, syncopation, minor keys, heavy, complex harmonies are a little like spices, caffeine, or alcohol in food and drink.
- Everybody uses spices – too much and you ruin the dish.
- Caffeine improves the appeal of foods and especially drinks – in moderation many of us really appreciate it, too much and it leads to problems. And it is slightly addictive and mood altering, and as such definitely is used to make people buy and consume large quantities of bad foods.
- Alcohol – some feel it has no place for Christians, Bill one of them. My conservative, godly German heritage sees it a tad differently, but we have still decided that for us the risks and perceptions exceed whatever benefits it provides. Many good Christians would never drink or cook with alcohol. It is also mood altering and addictive . . . and used to change behavior.
Beat, backbeat, syncopation in music is somewhat like caffeine and particularly alcohol in food. In small, deliberate amounts it could be a good thing. Being addictive and pleasure inducing, though, lots of folks lose objectivity and start consuming ever larger amounts to satisfy a craving they may not fully understand. It is used to change our behavior, leading us to buy, participate in, consume things we would otherwise not. If alcohol becomes part of every day let alone part of every drink and even dish, suddenly you have an evil thing. People die, do horrible things, ruin their lives and the lives of their loved ones because of alcohol.
In response to that, seeing it affect them or their loved ones (by example) in ways they do not like, some purpose to eliminate the “drug” from their lives and homes. Like we did with alcohol. Are we more spiritual for doing so? Not necessarily. Are we smarter? We are comfortable that this has and will pay many dividends in terms of calamities avoided.
Some add rock to all music they listen to. Some can hardly listen to music without it, watch a movie without it, plugged in almost 24×7, sort of like an addiction. Some feel that the beat drags them and those they love and counsel down, to a darker place, sensual place.
Some look at the evidence above and decide it is not for them, purposing to eliminate the music “drugs” from their lives. Bill is convinced that there is no good use of rock beat, backbeat in the ideal life of the believer, and so has worked at getting all families to purge their lives from it. Sort of like health food advocates eliminate caffeine . . . And alcohol. We think he has a vital point.
Now you get to decide for yourself.
Well, there sure is nothing like a healthy helping of gnostic dualism to go with Christmas dinner!
Come on guys. Out of all the areas where Bill tried to be an expert, probably the only ones which he was less qualified to teach on than music was marriage and medicine. I’m a classically trained professional musician (have performed with symphony orchestras) who loves the great music of the masters and generally dislikes contemporary music. I have my own reasons for this, and can even make some pretty decent arguments from scripture as to why classical music is better than pop.
But these arguments are ridiculous and just come out as silly.
The three most egregious flaws are these (there are others, but let’s start here):
• Gnostic dualism.Your whole argument is based on the idea that spiritual world = good and physical world = bad. This has been a known heresy for nearly 2000 years.
• The comparison of melody, harmony, and rhythm to spirit, soul, and body. This is flawed, not only because there is nothing scripture upon which to base it, but because it shows a complete lack of understanding the components of music. For starters, it is an incomplete list, as it only lists three of the commonly understood six core components of music, negelecting timbre, texture, and form. Secondly, melody, harmony, and rhythm are not independent components, as melody dictates harmony, melody does not exist without rhythm, etc.
• It equates the messenger to the message. When a person writes a book, we do not typically judge the caliber of the ink and paper upon which the book is printed, rather the messages/communication that take place within the book. The paper and ink, in that sense, are amoral, whereas the messages may or may not be. Likewise, music is a method of communication. Music itself is amoral (vibrations), whereas the messages the music carries are not. You are wise in suggesting that we must evaluate the messages (moral and otherwise) of music, but the music itself is simply the carrier of the messages. Mr. Gothard could never differentiate the two, and as such, he judged that certain sounds and rhythms (e.g. rock beat/drums) were always sinful.
Merry Christmas, DJ.
Hats off. I myself studied Clarinet under the 3rd chair of the Seattle Symphony . . . and sat as the same in the Wind Ensemble of my University for four years as a non-major.
The fact is that we are composed of spirit, soul, and body, so so far there is nothing unscriptural. The fact is that when the body supercedes the spirit in importance, we are out of balance and into trouble. So . . . that is not a problem either. Nobody said that rhythm was evil . . . just inferior.
I think you would agree that this represents refinements on the terms he used, terms which themselves start to mean other things to the “music geeks” than the layman. Timbre is a completely sound based quality, i.e. physical quality having to do with the performer, whereas melody, harmony, rhythm are represented directly in a score, defining the piece. Texture is an added quality of the piece, framing the “message” . . . like harmony. Form supports the message directly, how it is presented. In any case, the fact that gradeschoolers get “Melody, Harmony, and Rhythm” like they are given “primary colors” clues us in that those three are in a class by themselves. You may want to argue, but it made sense to us then and makes sense to us now. And to lots of other trained folks. (One of us has a series of instrumental CDs to their credit, recorded around the world).
You got that from the “uninformed rabble” and not Bill or his materials. Don’t recall him ever mentioning drums . . . indeed, you and I both know that rhythm lives in a guitar line as easily as a drum. Again, a march is a pounding, repetitive rhythm, but Bill deems it cool because the message of the piece contains the same intensity. When the rhythm is off doing its own thing and the melody is clearly secondary, then you have an imbalance. “It’s own thing” can be syncopation, backbeat designed to get your body going in sensual ways that you can’t deny . . . or I hope you can’t.
And allow me to say . . . I am sure that nothing here will be completely definitive, and if it is important to defend rock music, nothing will satisfy. That is because a lot of this is felt, down in our “gut brain”, rather than cognative. It is, nontheless, quite real, and we sin against ourselves and our families to deny it.
“The fact is that we are composed of spirit, soul, and body, so so far there is nothing unscriptural.”
Only if you assume that Mr. Gothard’s tripartite view is biblical, which most Christians do not. But I know you believe whatever he says, so I’ll let you argue that point another day.
“I think you would agree that this represents refinements on the terms he used, terms which themselves start to mean other things to the “music geeks” than the layman.”
Actually no, I don’t. Musicians typically categorize music into anywhere from 5-8 components (I typically view it as 6), of which melody, harmony, and rhythm are only three. Each is distinct and has its own role to play to in framing a musical message. Mr. Gothard is cherry-picking three to fit into his tripartite model.
“You got that from the “uninformed rabble” and not Bill or his materials. Don’t recall him ever mentioning drums . . . indeed, you and I both know that rhythm lives in a guitar line as easily as a drum.”
Okay, seriously. I went through every almost music program IBLP had to offer. I wrote songs that were published by the IBLP ministry (you’ve probably sung some of them…or your kids have). I’ve performed special music on multiple occasions on the Knoxville stage. I’m intimately aware of Mr. Gothard views on music, and the views he imposed on the music arm of IBLP.
“And allow me to say . . . I am sure that nothing here will be completely definitive, and if it is important to defend rock music, nothing will satisfy. That is because a lot of this is felt, down in our “gut brain”, rather than cognative. It is, nontheless, quite real, and we sin against ourselves and our families to deny it.”
Which is basically translated as: we can’t prove our views on the subject, as much of it is a gut feeling. And no one can prove us wrong either.
Yet, even though you admit it is a gut feeling, you don’t have any qualms with the fact that “more folk were dismissed for openly questioning any part of that than about anything.”
Even if true (“most people”), since when is what “most people” think definitive in our faith? I seem to read that “most people” will miss it. Scripture clearly defines us as “Spirit, Soul, and Body”. We take that up in A Salvation Trinity . . . have a look and let us know what part you think is unscriptural.
You may be embarrassed, but if you want to share which ones, you may become one of my heroes. Sincerely. That may identify you, understood. For my part I will no longer discount your understanding of what Bill teaches on music.
Nothing in what I said makes me without qualms. That would seem sort of obvious in the comments made.
This isn’t a question about that music is mentioned in the Bible or that music is used in worship but Bill made up connections and then tried to fit Bible verses around his 3 parts of music to correspond to his tripate view of man. It doesn’t work and Bill’s ideas boil down to his own opinion, nothing more and nothing less. You cannot simply make sweeping statements that the first thing people object to about Bill’s teaching is about music and the objections have nothing to do with liking Rock or Jazz music. I am not a fan of rock music but Bill’s teaching about music is completely off. Music is used in worship but not all music is worship, Bill tries to make music out to be only used in worship. That is not true and cannot be supported in Scripture.
I would also like to say something about the former African witchdoctor that supposedly heard rock music and then stated that was the same as what he used in voodoo rites. If you really “saw” some affidavid of this, then why don’t you post that on your blog? This story is old and tiresome and rises to the level of urban legend that reality and facts. If this story that Bill used over and over and over again, then you should beable to produce what person said it, where they were from etc. Stating that you “saw” some signed document doesn’t make it true, where is the proof?
Rob! A lengthy post to just said “It ain’t so!” I say it is so. So we are even.
BTW, we went to some trouble to lay a foundation for our “tri-partate being”. How about zeroing in on which part of the presentation you can disagree – factually – with?
IBLP went to the trouble to get the person who provided the story to make a statement, dated, individual identified, to certify that that is what they experienced. No, I do not have the in front of me. I will try to get it. But I saw it, I really, really did! 🙂 Be honest . . . if I can get to there, it won’t make a lick of difference, right?
Factually what I disagree with is all of it. Bill uses a faulty model for music then tries to line it up with his triapate model for man to come up with some kind of musical standard by which he judges whether music is good or bad. You only have one Bible verse that mentions body, soul and spirit but many more that line up with a bi-part view of man. The the argument isn’t about whether man is triapate or bi but Bill coming up with his faulty music model. Whether you saw or didn’t see some sort of swore testimony by one ex-witchdoctor, the bigger issue is that if that sort of connection was true, this swore testimony with name, date, time place etc would already have been out there. But, it hasn’t been produced which does cast doubt on the story and it’s many versions. There would be more ex-witchdocters, voodoo priests etc that be coming forward and writing books but that isn’t the case. Another urban legend being passed off as true.
Frankly, just admit that there is no amount of evidence that would convince you that Bill is right, Rob. We will save each other a lot of grief.
So, my understanding of this article makes me say that this seems different than most of your others in that you’re explaining Gothard’s view rather than outright defending it (since as you said, your own opinions on the subject vary from person to person on the moderator staff). Is it then Gothard’s position that listening or not listening to this music is an issue of personal conscience (which is how I read this article, particularly because of how the conclusion is worded “Now you get to decide for yourself”)? Or is that the position of this website alone?
More specifically, did Gothard teach it was permissible for a Christian, in good conscience who did not feel compelled by conscience to avoid rock music altogether, to listen to rock and remain holy? Was it an option at all?
Bill is death on Rock music, there is no other way to say it. More folk were dismissed for openly questioning any part of that than about anything. We believe his stance is healthy, meaning a person or family or church that eliminates all rock music will benefit from doing so. We do not all share the perspective that it must cause problems in all cases. Best analogy is “health food” advocates. There are those that teach that sodas like Coke will always cause problems for those who drink, like poison. Those that heed their advice and eliminate sodas from their diet will note many positive results. But many survive and prosper with some soda use. We know of extreme “health food” adherents that do damage in other ways through “perfect” diets. In my mind rock music is like soda pop or even alcohol. And not every moderator agrees. Hence we leave it as it is.
Hmm… so you think it’s healthy to remove an apparently large number of people from your ministry for something you don’t even feel is necessarily Biblically evil? That doesn’t strike you as not a good thing? You know there are people who believe you are sinning against God to eat junk food because you’re not truly valuing your temple. Is it still right of them to pronounce others as ungodly or to remove them from their ministry for not seeing eye to eye on that principle?
I guess my summary question would be: if you don’t even agree with Gothard, don’t you feel this point might be just a little over emphasized? I mean, Steve was guilty of a lot worse than listening to some rock music and he was simply sent away for how long before being reinstated? Do you all think this was an example of missplaced priorities and emphasis?
Tyler: It is hard to second guess a man who has a world wide ministry, ran it effectively for 50 years, catapulted into the national limelight for decades. He let a lot of people go, and had others come. Some of it seemed arbitrary, even a tad unfair at times. He has, for the record, in my hearing, appologized to a number for this very thing. If Bill was into anything, it was loyalty. He expected his message to be communicated exactly as he intended, without deviation. To him it was the height of betrayal to counter any part of it. That is why he let people go.
Thank you for posting this in response to my questions. This does help to clear up some of my questions, but I still have a few. Since I would really like to understand Bill Gothard’s teachings on this matter, I’ll leave my opinions on this matter out.
You said that the origin of music is important. Jazz’s voodoo origins are a strike against it. Has Bill ever said anything about Celtic music? I would assume its pagan origins and rhythm-driven nature discount Celtic music as being acceptable?
I know that Bill Gothard largely approves of classical music. Are there any classical pieces that he disapproves of? I can think of many classical pieces in minor keys and darker classical pieces like Night on Bald Mountain.
I have heard people say that Bill Gothard has said that people will emulate the composers of the music that they listen to. Is is true that this is one of Gothard’s teachings?
I have other questions, but I’ll save them for another comment.
Others may chime in, I personally am not aware of Celtic music being singled out. I know he spoke of melodies that were not healthy, but that was just the style, like a melody that rises and rises and never comes down. The main thing he focused on . . . was the beat, repetitive or backbeat, as dominant.
Not something he focused on. Perhaps DJ will have more information.
I have my own theories, but do not recall Bill saying anything. That might well be part of the “Sound Foundations” course that I did not take. DJ?
I have personally read that (though my dad has since gotten rid of the Gothard ATI textbooks on our bookshelves, so I can’t verify my claims with page number or even what book they were in) one reason teenagers should not be allowed to listen to CCM is that CCM artists are worldly and that teens will try to imitate them. While not word for word what Helga is speaking of, it is the same principle. The listeners will try to emulate the composers. Again, I can’t provide page numbers or book title, but I know personally I have seen this. It shouldn’t be terribly hard to find. I believe it was in a chapter called “Recognizing the Lie in Contemporary Christian Music”, then had a verse quoted from Jude underneath it. Maybe that will help you find it…. I don’t know.
Tyler: One thing Bill did say was that Christian music is worship, and that performers should be held to the same standards as deacons, preachers.
Alfred you have to be kidding me, so Bill is saying most can’t sing in church, a performer is worshiping by singing and so am I so if I am not qualified to be a deacon preacher ect then I can’t worship. What rock did he find that under? Deut 31:19 “Now therefore write this song and teach it to the people of Israel. Put it in their mouths, that this song may be a witness for me against the people of Israel.” 1 Sam 18:6, “As they were coming home, when David returned from striking down the Philistine, the women came out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tambourines, with songs of joy, and with musical instruments.” 1 Chron 6:32,”They ministered with song before the tabernacle of the tent of meeting until Solomon built the house of the Lord in Jerusalem, and they performed their service according to their order.” 1 Chron 13:18 “And David and all Israel were celebrating before God with all their might, with song and lyres and harps and tambourines and cymbals and trumpets.” Eph 5:19 “addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart,” Col 3:16, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” I could go on, there are 116 reference to song in the Bible and nowhere does it say you have to be a deacon, pastor, ect to sing and rejoice. This is typical Gothard preference vs. true doctrine. He likes Blue clothes, red rugs, old clocks, red brick, white trim. Its not in the bible. The temple was made of stone, the inside was covered in cedar and gold. Where does he get the red, white and Blue from our Flag? I’m tired and sarcastic tonight, I repent and ask forgiveness!
You are forgiven. Those that led the worship in the temple were appointed, by course. More important is that concept of “deacon” in the New Testament. A “deacon” is a servant, a servant of the church. That service would include the performers of music.
“Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre;
Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.
And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless.” (1 Timothy 3:8-10)
1 Chron 13:18 “And David and all Israel were celebrating before God with all their might, with song and lyres and harps and tambourines and cymbals and trumpets.”
David seemed to be leading the worship to God and while anointed by Samuel, by God’s direction, to be King based on 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 was not qualified to be a deacon, preacher and in Bill’s words performer. David was an adultery, murderer, he had rebellious children. Not Qualified. His major redeeming quality was he was publically repentant and thus forgiven.
David’s triumphant march into Jerusalem with the ark was BEFORE any of his sins. That takes that off the table. And . . . I do hope that those with sin, once it has been resolved, can be qualified to serve God’s people.
This idea that Church musicians are on the same level as a deacon is so far out there that it has left the ball park. The deacon in the Catholic Church is an ordained minister, in Protestantism it varies but still, this is lunacy at it’s finest. Then should ushers, Sunday school teachers, catechists, etc. be considered as well. The earliest Church that Bill is enamored with didn’t even use musicians, everything was chanted.
I think they should! The church has generally really messed up the simple things the Scriptures present. I mean, when you compare the vestments and complex positions with . . . the words in the Bible . . . one is not based on the other.
To my recollection, Mr. Gothard did not address specific composers or compositions in his teachings. Frankly, he wasn’t educated in such matters.
I do know that he would not allow any music in minor keys to be used at Knoxville conferences, as he only wanted music in major. I guess the music that Jesus, David, or anyone before 1547 sang wouldn’t make Mr. Gothard’s cut!
Another oddity is that IBLP would sell/promote recordings of music by composers who lived debauched lifestyles (Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Schubert, etc), but would publicly call out Steve Green as a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.”
Speaking of which, Steve Green would be a good person for Bill to publically apologize to. I’ve had conversations with Steve on a couple of occasions (he’s as genuine a person you could hope to meet), and he mentioned how much it stung when Mr. Gothard (at the height of his popularity no less) sent out a letter/booklet/something that labeled him as the aforementioned “wolf in sheep’s clothing.” Just a thought.
I will bring Steve Green up to him. Did not know that.
I also remember Bill stating the urban legend that the great Wesleyan hymns were taken from bar songs but that was ok because the bar songs were originally good songs that became missed music. The first problem with this was that the Wesleyan brothers were very much against any form of drinking and would not be the type to go looking at bar songs for inspiration. In other words, this is more urban legend that reality. But even further than that, if some of the tunes used in their hymns did originate from bar songs of the day, Bill again has no historic proof that these bar songs were from previously good songs corrupted. the blog on Patheos Evangelical channel “Ponder Anew” addresses this urban legend that the great Wesleyan hymns were taken from bar songs of the day.
My enthusiasm for about anything posted on “Patheos” is, well, fairly low. That is the first I heard that – A lot of people disagree, Rob! All of Christianity is an “Urban Legend” to a lot of folks that hold forth there. Cite some facts, please. No, not a link . . . distill their major points and report back, please.
Dear Rob, there may be some truth behind that urban legend. The Wikipedia article on the Salvation Army claims that the SA put their lyrics to pub songs in an effort to evangelize slum dwellers.
I met with Bill tonight and asked him about this. He has absolutely no recollection of this . . . but there is no reason to doubt you and he winced when I read your comments. Can you help establish the event, DJ . . . and potentially faciliate a contact?
We reached out to Steve Green and he most graciously responded. His words:
We have relayed this to Bill. Thanks for bringing it to our attention, DJ.
So Gothard’s argument is that because deacon means “servant”, then all those who will serve in the area of music must then qualify to be deacons? That makes zero sense. Are there divorced people in your congregation who sing at church? Are there people at your church with a rebellious child who help with yard work or anything else around the church in a serving capacity? In order to serve in the church (a job we are all supposed to have), there is no indication that we must all fit the role of deacon/”servant”. In this particular case, the role of “servant” is a specific role, not meaning everyone who will serve in any capacity in the church.
Standing (or sitting) in front of the church to perform DOES qualify one as a “servant”, no less than the ushers or the ones collecting the money or teaching Sunday School. Maybe even more so, since music, singing is a spiritual work, according to so many examples and precepts in Scripture. The standards are targets we all should hit regardless. If someone does NOT hit the target, then . . . should they be given an official role “serving” the church?
That definition is only in Bill’s head. It is not applied and interpreted that way by any other Christian group. Again, you prove how out of step Bill is. All of this is just fantasies in Bill’s head. Yes, a deacon is a servant to help the pastor/priest/minister. But everyone is called to serve in the Church but that does not make everyone who serves a deacon. Like I said, a deacon in the Catholic Church is an actual ordained position with specific functions. In Protestantism, qualification vary, my brother-in-law serves as deacon at their Baptist Church and he works more behind the scenes in support to the pastor. Just because someone is up leading the music, doesn’t make that person a deacon. Taking your logic even further, then only men should be in music positions at Church if your Church doesn’t allow females in pastoral positions. The model in Act of the deacon are men specifically assigned to assist in service to the Apostles in a number of functions. You have let Bill control your thoughts here Alfred but sadly you can’t see it. For Bill to even suggest this show how out of it he is with 99.9999% of Christianity. If you really want to put yourself in defense of this man into the 0.00001% more power to you. You are in my prayers.
Back to, “I said it” and then “you said it ain’t so”. Not everyone agrees with you, Rob. There is no “majority opinion rules” either, right? We like Bill’s analysis as it appears to more closely match what the Bible says. If you want to cite your church tradition and the nameless, amorphous “majority”, go ahead. But let’s stop pinging back and forth, just expressing your opinion.
“Should they be given an official role serving the church?” Well, let’s see… what does the Bible say? Does the Bible say what you’re trying to say?
When the Bible shows the apostles ordaining the first seven deacons, they were ordaining seven men to serve in a specific capacity, who had to fit certain requirements. They never said all servants in the church must fit these requirements (though of course they are noble goals and some things we should all be striving after on our path toward holiness). How far do you take this principle, moderator (I don’t know if you’re Alfred or not, so I’ll call you the generic “moderator” :)?
Do you require the lawn people at your church to fit the requirements of a deacon, because they are servants in the church? Are people with a wayward child allowed to serve at a potluck? Are divorced and remarried people allowed to pray publicly in the service? Sure, you apply these ideas to church musicians, but to you apply them to the pianist? To people working in the sound booth? To anyone serving in any capacity? Since that should be every member of your church, does that mean every member of your church must fit the qualifications for a deacon?
Do you see where this is going? Just because deacon means “servant” doesn’t mean that every servant is a deacon any more than every shepherd is a pastor just because pastor means “shepherd”.
The word for “Servant” is “διακονέω diakoneō”, household servant. Often used as a verb “to minister”. That is anyone who has a specific job to “serve the church”. If you worry about people to cut the lawn, often the members of the church do that – at least someone is designated to see to it that it gets done.
Whatever the requirements for a “deacon”, those that “serve the church” must meet it. Just because we tend to not consult Scripture before we do things does not make it any less so. It may, in fact, explain why we have so many problems.
The requirements are:
“10 And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless. 11 Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things. 12 Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.” (1 Tim. 3)
Different churches interpret this differently – THAT is not the point. The point is . . . start treating the role of “servant” at a much higher level than perhaps we have. What goes for the “important servants” applies to the “unimportant servants”.
That is actually exactly what we believe. Explain the precedent for a single chief person called “Pastor” in the Bible. It is not there. Shepherding is a gift, a role, that applies to many individuals in the church. The fellow who preaches well is NOT the pastor . . . he is Scripturally a “Teacher” or a “Prophet” (NT preacher).
Again, now you are starting to zero in on why churches have problems. They are operating outside the simple instructions of Scripture.
I get to say this one more time: “Ignore the little man behind the curtain; I am MODERATOR, great and powerful.”
For the moment, as we are ramping up, the moderating responses are Alfred. Others are less enthralled with this job. It will not always be so. For now . . . Alfred is fine.
So… in application, what exactly can a person with a wayward child do at your church? Because they’re not allowed to serve other people in the church, not allowed to serve in any capacity in the church, etc (which by the way is a command for every believer, which means that if you have a wayward child you’re not allowed to serve in the capacity we are commanded to)… Again, I realize that will not convince you you are wrong because I am simply addressing the results and application of your teaching rather than the arguments you presented. But, man… I really don’t have the desire to go back and argue your arguments right now. I’d rather enjoy my time with my family during Christmas break. But thank you for making your position clear.
Ha, ha, okay, MODERATOR, great and powerful. 🙂 Alfred it is.
People with messed up households still work for a living, right, Tyler? This has only to do with those that specifically serve the church. And, again, different gatherings interpret the standards differently. Many consider a wayward child that is out of reach not a ban from the ministry. Many accept a repentant person after a divorce and remarriage – others do not. That is outside our discussion. Again, we need to make “service” more holy, not make less things “service”.
Enjoy your Christmas and your family, Tyler.
I know I said I would let it go… but I just can’t. 🙂 So… if every servant must fit the requirements for a deacon, are women allowed to serve in any capacity in the church, since the qualifications are aimed at men? For example, if a woman wishes to serve, how do we know she fits the requirements?
It’s so obvious we’re speaking about a specific role, not qualifications for all servants, that I’m honestly having trouble wrapping my mind around your position. These requirements are only addressed to men, so unless you’re saying only men can be servants in the church, how do these requirements fit women?
Alright, after this, now I’m going to enjoy my break. 🙂 I’ll definitely read your response though.
That one is easy. “I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant (diakoneō, deacon) of the church which is at Cenchrea” (Romans 16:1) So . . . every standard applies, just the woman or wife version.
Bill has a BA in biblical studies a MA in christian education and a PhD in biblical studies. How does that make him an expert on the study of music beats? I don’t recall the Bible saying anything about a “godly beat” for music.
Bill is nothing more than a self appointed know it all.
Here is a quote I like from Albert Einstein:
It is not Bible, but I like it. It tells me that God and future generations get to judge the importance of a person. Bill expressed his convictions courageously and honestly . . . and millions came along for the ride. Some have climbed off, some of us still think of him as a “great spirit”. I bet you and I disagree on how future generations will view him. There is no way we will settling that today.
I believe we may have another point of agreement:
“Yet when you have even one modern example of music linked with demons or angels that you are convinced is real, it affects you.”
Are you saying that if someone believes something to be true, the impact on them can be very powerful? That this impact can be different for some than it is for others? The good/bad nature of the influence can be independent of the good/bad nature of the impact?
I am saying that if I believe something to be a genuine manifestation of the supernatural intersecting the world, it deeply affects me – I am quite stingy in allowing for that, have gotten burned. Do you feel differently?
How I feel is independent of us “reasoning together.” 😃
There’s a solid scriptural basis for it. And an equally solid teaching on to to address it. We are to test the spirits.
Experiences (and responses and resulting conclusions) are highly personal, therefore highly subjective. What to one observer may be explained by an instance of supernatural activity, can be by another as a person acting on conditioning or simple coincidence. The fact that supernatural interactions are possible doesn’t mean that that should be the first conclusion, it should be the last one. The example of the drums calling to evil spirits (not having all the facts) could be attributed to association bias just as easily as a “spiritual interaction.” I’m not saying it couldn’t have been, I’m saying the standard for whether we assign supernatural influence should be INCREDIBLY high.
Language and personal exeperiences may unwittingly influence a person’s understanding of a given set of circumstances. I once asked a former missionary to zimbawe whether witch doctors were real and wether they could really cast spells. His answer was very influential for me, he said, “well, its real for them.” We’re back at the power of belief which is a touchy subject with you so I’ll leave it at that.
I think the prudent course of action is to very carefully consider the role they play in public discourse and how we involve them in the development of teachings. Given the strong possibilty that we will not see, find salient, or be given all the facts surrounding situations we attribute to supernateral interactions, it is very problematic to build theology, dogma or teachings around what we know of them.
So, back we go to the “opiate of the people”, am I right? How it effects you is the only effect.
Or . . . are some supernatural things, both heavenly and infernal, quite real? Real today, things that actually change the way your life happens, that cannot be explained any other way? I would like your opinion on that for it has a tremendous influence on how to answer you.
I’m not sure how you get “Opiate of the people” from “we should prudent and consider all explainations before attributing something to a supernatural interaction”
I did not advance, nor did I imply, a complete rejection of the supernatural. I said its prudent to carefully consider all possible explainations before attributing events to the supernatural. Our religion is based on a supernatural interaction, so to imply that I believe that there is no objective truth just the power of belief is to imply that I am not a Believer. Words mean things, very serious things.
I would love to continue this with you, but if you continue to put words in my mouth this will become me saying something, then you telling me what I said, and then asking me to defend what you told me I said. How can I participate in that?
If you would critique my words vice what you read into them, this would be a much more fruitful reasoning together.
Well, your obvious conclusion, based on the statement of your friend, is that what mattered was not what happened, but what the participants thought about it. I don’t get that. If God is at work, it is hugely significant to figure that out and respond accordingly. If the devil is at work, it is also similarly important to figure out why, for our job is to literally wrestle him and his minions into subjection. If trickery, that is also hugely significant, and needs to be pointed out to those deceived.
I KNOW what you said, and I think I know what you meant. You are seeking to take the supernatural out of any dominant role in analyzing the ways of God expressed in the Word of God . . . for us today. Otherwise . . . why seek to counter my point? You want all determination of music as healthy or unhealthy to be based on . . . anything other than the supernatural. And I believe that there is no way to understand music fully without the affective, experiences, patterns, experiences. After processing all you see in Scripture . . . you still feel it, you see the effects, and occasionally God weighs in with something out of this world. One of Bill’s challenges: “Go on a music fast – abstain for all music (for some period of time) . . . then listen to rock music.” That is completely a gut level reaction – very important to some. I think there is something to it.
Anyway, did I just put words in your mouth? Help clear up my understanding. For example, did you read Steve Saint’s analysis of the experiences of his native people in Ecuador? He is far from a nut, yet believes it really was angels singing . . . choir music. Do you think it happened? If so, what do you make of it? If not, why not?
You don’t help your cause with posts like this.
How do you know what I want? I said its prudent to be careful. I think there is scriptural justification. Where they are really of God or the Devil is a seperate conversation. We are to be prudent. If we experience a “supernatural interaction” we are to keep it in its place. Taking anecdotes from a small number of people and extrapolating to a teaching for a wide audience is not prudent.
As I said, there are many valid explainations for circumstances that have nothing DIRECTLY to do with what you call supernatural interactions. From scripture, we are told we can inflate legitimate experiences without cause because of our fleshly mind.
How does all that not add up that we should be very careful before we claim supernateral causation, and even MORE careful before we turn them into teachings and base courses of action on them?
I do not understand how this is not walking circumspectly.
Col 3: 18Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind, 19and not holding fast to the head, from whom the entire body, being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with a growth which is from God
Unless, of course, the anecdotes are real. Knowing what you know about the Lord, do you think He does that sort of thing haphazardly? When God repeatedly miraculously provided resources – at times food, directly – for the thousands of orphans under the care of George Muller, do you think He wants you to believe it and tell your kids and others about it or not? Do you think He considers it OK to shrug it off as a Series of Fortunate Events in a random universe? Personally, I think that is offensive to Him. I think I recall you rehearsing the command to “try the spirits” to see whether they are of God of not – that implies a conclusion, Dave.
Coming at it another way, was Ahaz righteous or unrighteousness in the following interchange . . . Where he refused to be influenced by the supernatural?
Isaiah 7:10-13 – “Moreover the Lord spake again unto Ahaz, saying, Ask thee a sign of the Lord thy God; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above. But Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt the Lord. And he said, Hear ye now, O house of David; Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also?”
God had already spoken to Ahaz’s conscience but he ignored it. In this case a physical reminder of what his conscience told him about invisible things was in order. It is my opinion that God speaks fairly clearly on music to our conscience. At times some visible, physical reminders are graciously sent by Him to help move us along. Ahaz tried to take a noble tack, you know, “I won’t tempt the Lord, my faith is not based on experiences”, but God wasn’t buying it. And it is my opinion that these “witnesses” on what is godly or satanic on music should receive our full, conclusive “try the spirits” treatment. Do you disagree?
Your words in the article also carry with it the disclaimer, if you are convinced it is real.
Even in your rush to malign those who disagree with you in the slightest or appear to imply disagreement, you are forced to admit viewing these circumstances is an exercise in subjectivity, at least in determining the impact on your follow-on decisions.
I’m perplexed at how you can get so spun up in opposition so quickly when you are in effect, arguing against the very point you admit is valid.
I’m really trying to help you, you may not see it or appreciate it, but you are playing with very dangerous fire on this subject and I think it calls for a good deal more circumspect handling than what you are giving it.
So, take my analogy. Does “is alcohol good or bad for Christians” require circumspect handling or not? I suspect you would join me in saying it does. People die, marriages, families destroyed because of alcohol. Lives and ministries are ruined. I would hope that no one would conclude that God has no definite opinions on whether His children should imbibe and under what circumstances. That being the case, all righteous folks would treat the topic with seriousness and respect. Music is no different. A powerful influence for good or evil. So let’s figure it out. The refusal to “try it” formally, as in “try the spirits”, baffles me. Is Bill the only one willing to do so and come to a conclusion? This feels very “Ahazy” to me. We don’t have to agree on every nuance, just like Christians disagree on every application of alcohol rules, but it should carry the same weight and, frankly, respect. Most believers at least understand, respect those that eschew and hate alcohol for conscience sake – can we respect those that eschew and hate rock music for similar conviction? Or, put another way, do you understand and respect why they do?
We are ranging far afield.
The subject in question the fact that we have to be prudent when giving credibilty to any supernatural interaction as you call them.
Thomas’s demand to see the holes in Christ’s hands and subsiquent chiding is pertinent as well. Gideon also asked for signs. Saul went to see a witch. John and Daniel had visions. The Bible is full of stories about (your umbrella term): Spiritual Interactions (SI)
However, the clear prescriptives are to be prudent, to test them, to not inflate them without cause because of our fleshly mind. You have not acknowledged this, and the posts above indicate that you think this position is a smokescreen to divest them of meaning. It is not in a human’s power to pass judgement whether SI’s exist or do not exist. By definition, they are independent of our ability to speak them in or out of existence.
But what is in our realm of responsibilty is to determine what scope these SI have on our decision-making. This becomes very practical very quickly, because if we do nt have a measured approach, we can become like a ship at sea without an anchor, at the mercy of the waves and winds (external influences) to keep us afloat or off the rocks.
Whats pertinent, is that scientific studies using surveys to test hypothoses in the mental health field are in fact, the sum total of individual exeperiences. Each person fills out a survey or is interviewed at a time. Over time, researchers have developed tools and guidelines to determine how to identify the most applicable people to interview and how many, how to control for biases both in the researchers and the patients, and how to use correct methodology for precisely intrepreting the results.
One can use these tools to manipulate the results, or one can use these tools to arrive at valid conclusions. Because one person misuses them to ignore the truth in the data, does not mean another cannot use the tools to draw the truth out.
So, to your question about the role of SI in our lives, lets take alcohol. What is the difference between offering a beer to a recovering alcoholic, a 16 year old, and a strong mature person? It could be everything and it could be nothing. Either of the three may have a positive or negative response. IOW, the input (the beer) is independent of the response of the imbiber. One can no more guarantee one will have a bad reaction than one will have a good reaction. You can identify trends and determine most likely outcomes only. One can make this arguement with giving a car to an accident victim, a new driver, or an experienced driver. Important to note, a car dealer doesnt care, they just want to sell the car.
The point is, those who wish to “first do no harm” will carefully consider the impact of the reciever. Those that do not do so are at best, unaware and uncaring, at worst disregarding the dangerbecause the transfer advances their purposes.
In the same way, the traching of SI has to be carefully considered. As you point to in the article, there is a subjectivity of the listener is incredibly pertinent. To use anecdotes in public preaching by linking them to your teaching is irresponsible. It implies: “This great or bad thing happened to this person, and if you follow my teaching you will have good things happen to you/will be able to avoid bad things.” This prediction is impossible to support if you make the claim explicitly, so you should avoid makimg the promise explicitly as well.”
Why would you say that?! “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” (1 John 4:1). We are most definitely called on to “figure it out”. If we can’t see them . . . How can we wrestle them? “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Ephesians 6:12)
I do NOT get your analogy comparing supernatural stuff to alcohol. Is this to you the right or wrong use of motivational trickery? How does telling someone about actual events in the jungle. . . . Dangerous? See, you really don’t believe it, do you? You don’t believe demons came in response to the rock beat in CCM or angels sang choir music. i mean, you are allowed to hold to whatever you want, but there is not much point in a discussion on the supernatural if you are emphatically against any practical effect from it. You want everything to reduce to a mental, logical discussion. It might as well . . . Not be.
You want to worship a God who can’t do anything much, who can’t be counted on for anything real . . . Except making you feel better, EXACTLY the same as every fake god out there. “Pie in the sky bye and bye”, same as any myth or legend . . . Again, great stories to “get you through”. No wonder the world – let alone our children – turn(s) away from all we profess. See, we don’t believe it either – they are more honest. Paul talked about that:
“Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” (2 Timothy 3:5)
If that doesn’t apply to you, in what way do you profess and prove and brag about His power? George Muller set out to prove to a skeptical world that God is real . . . By taking on ultimately several thousand orphans, without a Board, BTW, never publishing a need until the end of the year in which it occurred, praying for specific things, even specific meals to the Lord and no one else . . . And in response God answered Him over and over in stunningly miraculous ways. He set out to do exactly what you implied we must not do. Was he wrong, do you think?
…making the promise IMPLICITLY as well.
And another correction – Your term was Supernatural Interaction, not Spiritual Interaction.
This is becoming pointless.
It would take 3 posts to point detail the errors in logic in your last post. While I appreciate your energy and enthusiam, I can’t help but think about how much more effective you could be at being an apologist for Bill and IBLP if you would simply read what people write vice what you think you they mean.
We can go back and forth about this or that teaching, or how to view the sum total of Bill’s work, but at the end of the day, if you WANT to believe in him, you will. No amount of reasoning with you will change that. I know this, but still feel compelled for some reason to try. However, after your last post I see you have to do some serious soul-searching before you’re ready to have that honest conversation so I bid you adieu.
Anyway, for what its worth, about 5 years ago, I was in the same place you appear to be in regards to wanting to find a defense of Bill. My prayer for you is that you will find the the Peace that the Prince of Peace stands willing to give. I hope you find that Hope that is promised for all those who place their complete and unreserved confidence in a perfect Father. I desire for you to find the strength that is perfect and complete. Not strength that shores up our sinful weakness, but strength that supplants and replaces it.
I leave you with this:
Soul searching is good for all of us. And . . . thank you for your engagement.
There’s a peace freely offered to all,
But found only on the other side of pain.
Not the ease of discarding the fall,
Or pride in the works we would claim.
To lay before our God as proof,
With a smile that seeks to mask
our clever twisting of the truth.
And gives us right, for peace to ask.
To search for peace on waters still,
Or ground of our own choice.
To face mad masters through our own will,
Gives to us an emasculated voice.
A voice untrained by God’s own truth,
Will lead our souls astray.
Our search for strength, void of humble proof,
when tested, will quickly fade away.
For the first time in my life, I see!
Blind eyes, oft bandaged, ever dull.
Not of my own work am I now free,
but Christ’s work, His love, does cull,
the best work of my own. Oh I tried,
to make Redemption work and be strong.
The phrase, trite through overuse, now bites:
Jesus Christ, Crucified; is now my song.
If I had a shine. It would be Sun Studios in Memphis TN.
In that room, rock music was first recorded, and became popular. I’ve gone to huge rock and metal festivals on two continents. The spark for all the bands I saw started in that little studio in TN.
Rock came from the blues, not jazz. Seriously, how hard would that have been to look up?
Did we say that rock came from jazz? They are cousins . . . but . . . the point was that both terms, at least, came with a heavy sexual connotation . . . the term itself. I doubt that debate will provide anything meaningful for either of us.
The terms “rock and Roll” was named by a DJ in Cleveland Ohio which is why the rock and roll museum is there. It was a sexual street term at that time.
Wisdom is known by her children!