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Hip and Thigh: Smiting Theological Philistines with a Great Slaughter. Judges 15:8

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Fundy Flame throwers and Other Delights

Ultra fundamentalist fire breather, Kent Brandenburg, has condemned us folks at Grace Church for being a bunch of hypocrites. He read through my Bob Johnson Report back near the end of November of this year and concludes that ole Bobby may have a point.

It breaks down sort of like this:

Bob Johnson practices what I would call a Conspiracy Driven Life. Practically everything supposedly "wrong" with contemporary evangelical church can be traced back to the United Nations, the CFR, Hegelian Marxists, and Al Mohler according to Bob Johnson's worldview. In response to Bob's kooky accusations against my church allegedly engaging in Hegelian Marxism and Total Quality Management within our singles ministries, I merely pointed out to him what true church growth philosophy of which we are concerned with at Grace really looks like.

I wrote,

I can clearly see what a purpose driven ministry looks like: The watered down preaching, trendy music replacing good worship music, the emphasis on getting people to feel comfortable rather than on sound doctrinal teaching, marginalizing older saints as not having an important role to play in the life of the church, attempting to be relevant toward current cultural issues, for example, the interview Rick Warren did with Obama/McCain in the summer of 2008.

Enter then Kent Brandenburg, freshly returned from rescuing the soul's of men from the villainy of Facebook, Molotov cocktails lit and in hand. He and his ready squad of anti-lordship head waggers ready themselves to lob them at those hypocritical neo-Calvinist MacArthurites. He zeroed in on three points in my outline quoted above: 1) the trendy music replacing good worship music, 2) the emphasis on getting people to feel comfortable rather than on sound doctrinal teaching, 3) attempting to be relevant toward current cultural issues.

It is with these three points Kent is convinced we are hypocritical because the single ministry The Guild (one of the key ministries criticized by Bob the wacko) and the college department's yearly Resolved conference, both use contemporary Christian music in their services. Kent then makes all the grand leaps of logic we have come to expect from Fundamentalists over the years and basically concludes:


"If I THINK the music is worldly in sound and style, it's sinful, period. And you're all indulging the sins of the flesh if you like it. Sinners!"

A few things to note with Kent's rant:

First of all, Grace Church has always set a high standard for worship music in both theological content, style, and performance. Sunday evenings is a bit more contemporary in sound than Sunday mornings, but the music is well done, God honoring, and theologically sound in lyrical content in spite of what Kent and his flame throwers may think about it.

Second, Kent criticizes The Guild (and Mainstream, a young marriage fellowship class) for allowing a band called The Narrow Gate to perform their take on classic Christmas hymns for a fellowship get together. But that band linked on his website is not the same band that played at a Christmas party on a Saturday night. They were a group of local attendees to our church who sang. Kent is totally wrong about this, which is typical of the type of flame throwing coming from his brand of Fundamentalism.

Third, the Resolved conference takes place off site of Grace Community Church and it doesn't reflect the general tone of worship set during the main worship services of our church. That means that yes - horrors - the music is probably more edgy, fast paced, rock-and-rolling sounding than for Kent's tastes. It is, of course, geared toward younger folks. I would even say - and this comes from a guy who likes good rock-and-roll - I don't necessarily care for it either. I realize Kent may think we have a Christianized Burning Man festival happening out in the desert above Palm Springs. He even quotes another unbalanced fundamentalist, Peter Masters, who basically says that; but what I personally prefer with music does not mean what I don't like is automatically sinful and ungodly and Christians can't listen to it.

Kent then goes on to ask some heart penetrating questions:

Where in Scripture do we see the church segmented like this? Where does God's Word say that one part of the church will have a different emphasis than others or will accomplish what it does in a different way than the rest of the church? Where in the Bible does this philosophy come from? And what is tone?

Well, Kent, "Where does the Bible say we can't have different emphasis?" The Church is a diversity of gifted individuals unified around the Gospel. Resolved may have music you dislike and think is wicked, but that's you, and what you personally dislike doesn't equate to being sinful. That's the logical disconnect among Fundamentalists of Kent's stripe. In truth, the music is theologically rich in content and played well and is merely the supplement to the hours of solid, Bible believing theologically sound preaching those young people hear during the week.

And then to make sure he heads off any rightful criticism to his muddled thinking he has tried to pass off as "standing for truth," Kent remarks,

I can already hear the defenses. I've read them over at Pyromaniacs among other Grace Community and MacArthur apologists. The defenses are very similar to those offered in revivalist fundamentalism. The one criticizing us "has a small group of supporters." "He's a hyper fundamentalist." He's one of those "King James Only types." In other words, no substantial defense, just name-calling and blatant arrogance.

Talk about irony, especially with that last "blatant arrogance" comment. At any rate, there is a reason you hear those defenses Kent. THAT'S BECAUSE THEY ARE TRUE!

You're a small group of hyper minded individuals who equate their personal preferences with biblical truth that you think should be held by all Christians and anyone who challenges your claim to the facts of the matter are blatantly called arrogant for disagreeing with you.

It couldn't be any clearer.

Labels:

34 Comments:

Blogger Impacted Wisdom Truth said...

Fred, the band "Narrow Gate" that performs at the Guild is NOT the one linked to by Kent Brandenburg. There is apparently at least two different Christian bands with the same name.

7:49 PM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

Well go figure.
I never thought Fundy's like Kent would ever be inaccurate as to their accusations.

8:00 PM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

I updated the post to reflect Kent's false accusations against the Guild. Any additional info you can give about the group that really did perform on Dec. 12th is welcome.

8:11 PM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger Impacted Wisdom Truth said...

I looked to see if they have a web page, and was not able to locate one.

9:48 PM, December 27, 2009  
Blogger donsands said...

Hymns, psalms, and spiritual songs can surely be very diverse.
I have a video of a group of wonderful Christians in Nepal, who sing praises to Christ our Lord with joy and love, and yet it sure is different, let me tell you.

God doesn't seem to mind different cultures worshipping Him in Spirit and truth.

There surely is a lot of going through the motions in worship. From the hard-line fundies, who wosrhip with a self-righteous worship, to the Brian McLaren types who are so light minded, that they have no seriousness about the truth, except for those who take it serious.

Excellent post. Very well written.

8:32 AM, December 28, 2009  
Blogger Kent Brandenburg said...

Hi Fred,

To start, to discern wisdom here, I ask you to consider James 3:14-17: "But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy."

Earthly wisdom will look like vv. 14-16 and Godly wisdom will have the characteristics of v. 17.

I want to start by apologizing for the link to "The Narrow Gate" band that was not that band. Instead I've linked to Christian Ebner's myspace site and tweaked the post based on your criticism. Thanks for bringing that to my attention, Fred.

Now for the errors in your post. First of all, anybody that knows me knows that I reject the label fundamentalist. I don't claim to be a fundamentalist and I'm not part of fundamentalism.

Second, I didn't associate or agree with the conspiracy theory garbage of said "Bob Johnson," whom I have never met. I just read your blog post and thought about the purpose driven church criticism based on your own paragraph. So that whole section is a misrepresentation. I've read Warren's book, so I know the strategy and I see it there in smaller dosages at GCC. If it's wrong, it's wrong in whatever dose it comes.

Third, I believe in lordship salvation, have preached it and taught it for almost twenty years. So I'm in agreement on lordship, and you said I was anti-lordship. One anti-lordship guy, who rarely visits my blog came on with one comment, but I have nothing to do with him besides the few times he comments on my blog, usually on the issue of worship and culture, when I write on them.

Fourth, I didn't say anything like your "I THINK" quote about music. I quoted others. If I wanted, I could have also quoted a huge chunk from Iain Murray's biography of John MacArthur (which I read), in which he writes a similar criticism to mine. My criticism also fits this person's writing:

"Rock music, with its bombastic atonality and dissonance, is the musical mirror of the hopeless, standardless, purposeless philosophy that rejects both God and reason and floats without orientation in a sea of relativity and unrestrained self-expression. The music has no logical progression because it comes from a philosophy that renounces logic. It violates the brain because its philosophy violates reason. It violates the spirit, because its philosophy violates truth and goodness. And it violates God, because its philosophy violates all authority outside of itself.

Not only the titles and lyrics of many rock songs but the names of many rock groups shamelessly flaunt a godless, immoral, and often demonic orientation. The association of hard rock with violence, blasphemy, sadomasochism, sexual immorality and perversion, alcoholol and drugs, and Eastern mysticism and the occult arc not accentual. They are fed from the same ungodly stream. A leading rock singer once said, “Rock has always been the devil’s music. It lets in the baser elements.” Another testified, “I find myself evil. I believe in the devil as much as God. You can use either to get things done.” Putting a Christian message in such musical form does not elevate the form but degrades the message to the level already established in the culture by that form."

Do you believe what that man wrote? You can find a long quote from his book, which I read ten to fifteen years ago, here:

http://www.religiousaffectionsministries.org/featured/who-said-this-the-rock-music-had-actually-destroyed-the-plants-cells

(to be continued)

10:46 AM, December 28, 2009  
Blogger Kent Brandenburg said...

(continuation of comment)

Fifth, you contradict yourself when you say that Purpose Driven philosophy uses "trendy music," and then later argue that the music itself is a matter of taste, essentially amoral. You really would be required to remove that as a purpose-driven problem if you don't think that music itself has any innate sinfulness. What's interesting about that point is that the people who use the music (minus the Christian words) know what kind of effect and message their music has, but a smaller group of Christians (speaking of the smaller group) denies that and says that music is morally neutral. This point fits right into the postmodern view of the truth in which external and artistic expressions, like dress, art, and music, have no meaning. It attacks what is objectively true and lovely, which Philippians 4:8 commands us to think on.

Sixth, Nowhere does Scripture teach that unity in a church is based upon only the gospel---that is a modern invention that results in a toleration of unscriptural behavior. That itself clashes with lordship salvation. Worship is giving God what he wants, which is mutually exclusive from our taste.

Seventh, your defense did fit what I predicted, Fred. And you said it in capitals---I guess, to scream at me like a revivalist fundamentalist. But the name calling and insults really don't work as argument.

As far as being a flame thrower, I hope that I can be said to be like the two witnesses in the book of Revelation. I'm sure I am far from these propagators of the everlasting gospel, but I would hope for something like that, Fred. Thanks for the opportunity of presenting this comment.

10:47 AM, December 28, 2009  
Blogger donsands said...

"Rock has always been the devil’s music."

And so, "Why should the devil have all the good music?" -Larry Norman

12:55 PM, December 28, 2009  
Blogger donsands said...

I do want to say, I understand why some teachers would think Rock is 100% from the devil. But it's simply melodies, or tunes. The words make it what it is. It could be of the devil for sure. And so can a hymn.
He is an angel of light, and his ministers are ministers of righteousness.

12:57 PM, December 28, 2009  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

Thanks for sharing, Kent:

I'll respond to the points:

First of all, anybody that knows me knows that I reject the label fundamentalist. I don't claim to be a fundamentalist and I'm not part of fundamentalism.

(Fred) Welp, the reputation you have cultivated over the years in the comments of the various blogs where I have seen you pop up doesn't really support your contention. You may say you aren't a fundamentalist, but your actions via the comments you leave very much demonstrate the pugnacious type of fundamentalism that puts a blight upon Christ's church.

So that whole section is a misrepresentation. I've read Warren's book, so I know the strategy and I see it there in smaller dosages at GCC. If it's wrong, it's wrong in whatever dose it comes

(Fred) I mention Bob Johnson, because there is a background to my comments you are interacting with. I want to make sure readers know why things are being said.

Third, I believe in lordship salvation, etc...

(Fred) Good. I am glad you are biblical in this area of theology. However, many in your commenters who are back slapping you and giving you their kudos for a job well done with sticking it to John MacArthur, are non-lordship.

Fourth, I didn't say anything like your "I THINK" quote about music. I quoted others.

(Fred) Yes, but you certainly implied it with your quotes from others. When you quote people approvingly, it means you agree with their sentiments, unless otherwise clarified. I saw no clarification.


Do you believe what that man wrote?

(Fred) No, I sure don't. I think his evaluation of "rock" music as being this demonic like force is a bit over-the-top and reflects an unbalanced, hysterical fundamentalism the writer use to be friendly toward back when he was a younger, less mature man in the faith. And because it is John MacArthur who wrote this in some commentary, I think the one on Ephesians in his study of chapter 5:18 if memory serves me correctly, I have actually discussed this with him a few times in the past.

Continued below...

2:33 PM, December 28, 2009  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

Fifth, you contradict yourself when you say that Purpose Driven philosophy uses "trendy music," and then later argue that the music itself is a matter of taste, essentially amoral.

(Fred) No I don't, because I am defining my statement along the lines of what constitutes a worship service for our local church. Grace doesn't use trendy music like what we find as a norm at Saddleback. At Grace, the morning services tend to be traditional, classical style choir led worship times. The evening services are a bit more contemporary, but nothing like the stuff we see as typical in PDL churches.

Secondly, this is why I wanted my readers to know I was responding to Bob Johnson, because he had a specific allegation as to what was happening at our church regarding "church growth" and thus there is a specific context as to why I wrote what I wrote.

Third, I don't think "trendy" music has any innate sinfulness, but there is an appropriateness as to how it is used in the function of leading worship. PDL churches tend to emphasize the trendy at the disregard of the traditional, because the traditional is seen as old fashioned, or irrelevant, or what ever. Your not one of those Bill Gothard 2-4 time people are you?



This point fits right into the postmodern view of the truth in which external and artistic expressions, like dress, art, and music, have no meaning.

(Fred) Ummm... Postmodernism certainly see meaning in what they do. It is meant to be a reaction against what is considered objective and modern. But again, this comes back to how you think music style is innately sinful and why certain music can't be utlized to convey biblical truth.

Sixth, Nowhere does Scripture teach that unity in a church is based upon only the gospel---that is a modern invention that results in a toleration of unscriptural behavior. That itself clashes with lordship salvation. Worship is giving God what he wants, which is mutually exclusive from our taste.

(Fred) Ephesians 4:1-6 speaks of being called to the unity around one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism. Those are things encompassing the gospel. At any rate, I can maybe revisit that comment and tighten it up a bit, but my main point is still valid if you agree with it or not. Again, you need to demonstrate how using contemporary style music can't be used to give God what he wants.

Seventh, your defense did fit what I predicted, Fred. And you said it in capitals---I guess, to scream at me like a revivalist fundamentalist. But the name calling and insults really don't work as argument.

(Fred) I guess if you want to believe that. I gave three reasons why you were muddled in your evaluation of what goes on at Grace.

As far as being a flame thrower, I hope that I can be said to be like the two witnesses in the book of Revelation.

(Fred) Something tells me that the 2 witness won't care about what style of music is being used as worship in a local church.

2:35 PM, December 28, 2009  
Blogger Kent Brandenburg said...

Fred,

I think you need to take a step back and be less defensive.

First, on fundamentalism. I've got on blogs and defended my doctrinal and practical positions period. At most I'm a fundamentalist by dictionary definition, strict adherence to an authority.

Second, on lordship. No one on my blog has ever presented an anti-lordship position. In the comment section, if someone did that, I would refute it.

Third, on the I THINK section, it isn't just a matter of taste. Many people view this the same way I do. Many. Obviously MacArthur in his Ephesians commentary agreed. Have you read Remonstrance?

Fourth, trendy music. But if music can be trendy, then music itself can be judged. That's where the contradiction is. You can't say someone has trendy music if music is only a matter of taste. And if it isn't only a matter of taste, then you are drawing a line somewhere for some reason.

I've never had anything to do with Bill Gothard. I've never heard him one time. The music medium does have a message, however, and what it communicates, if it is to honor God, must line up with His truth. Music can be sensual. Listen to Christian Ebner and he uses musical devices to communicate sensuality---breathiness, throatiness. By the way, that name is on the credits for music on the Bruno soundtrack (google it). Is it the same guy?

Holiness is a majestic transcendence that separate from the common or the profane and should not be associated with worldly communication. The same arguments must be made against corrupt communication. Letters are symbols put together into words that have meaning. God assumes we can judge that when He commands us to let no corrupt communication proceed from our mouth.

The music issue is a big discussion about which I've written a lot on my blog and in a book.

4:46 PM, December 28, 2009  
Blogger Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Kent Brandenburg: "Sixth, Nowhere does Scripture teach that unity in a church is based upon only the gospel---that is a modern invention that results in a toleration of unscriptural behavior."

Hmmmmmmm. Like tolerating the unscriptural behavior of the conservative anti-Manhattan Declaration Protestants?

12:04 AM, December 29, 2009  
Blogger Hayden said...

Fred---

Disengage! Disengage!

If Kent ever visited Grace Church for a Sunday Morning service he would be surprised by the classical feel to it.

The problem that I run into is that people divide over music far too often. They make the argument about 'rhythms' and 'backbeats' when the Bible is completely SILENT on such things.

Here is the main issue. ALL of us have enough sin in our hearts to sin for a lifetime. No musical style could provoke you to sin, you are already a sinner at heart! (Jer. 17:9) If you cut off you ears and plucked out your eyes, you would still sin (but be miserable). It is only through constantly reminding ourselves and submitting to the Gospel message daily that we grow. The 'list mentality' makes us feel like we are making progress.

You will never convince Kent, so, stop trying. It is a tussle in a teapot. He is speaking of things at GCC that he has no idea about. I think he should come to a Shepherd's Conference and go out to lunch with you sometime and talk about what he observed.

Kent,

Look up the names Jubilant Sykes, Christopher Parkening, and Cory Welch. They all sing at GCC and are of varied backgrounds and styles of music.

I know Christian Ebner and he is a fine man. He is a professional in the music industry. (He has also sang on some kids cds as well, oh, the horror)

I suspect that you would not like the music at the church that I pastor at because it is more of the Sovereign Grace Music variety. Yet, I would not separate from you as a brother over it. Would you separate from the folks at GCC and Sovereign Grace Ministries over music styles?

Might I suggest that you read the book "Worship Matters" by Bob Kauflin. I do not agree with it 100% (he is a bit more charismatic that I am )but it is a very good treatment of worship music in the church.

7:10 AM, December 29, 2009  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

Well Hayden (Got your all's Christmas letter by the way) I am not trying to convince him of anything. My concern is with the ignorant slander many outsiders who have never been to our church, let alone been to Los Angeles, or to our conference, etc., attempt to push off as what is really going on at Grace. It's just stupid and embarrassing.

Kent writes,
The music medium does have a message, however, and what it communicates, if it is to honor God, must line up with His truth.

I would agree with your assessment, but at the same time lots of CCM style music qualifies as communicating God's majesty.


Music can be sensual. Listen to Christian Ebner and he uses musical devices to communicate sensuality---breathiness, throatiness.

"Breathiness" and "Throatiness" is highly subjective and is a matter of taste. That's like saying "and he grips the microphone with both hands" or "He closes his eyes when he sings." Of all the times I have heard Ebner sing at Church, his "communication" has been edifying.

By the way, that name is on the credits for music on the Bruno soundtrack (google it). Is it the same guy?

Why would you know about the music soundtrack of Bruno? None the less I have no idea.

Holiness is a majestic transcendence that separate from the common or the profane and should not be associated with worldly communication.

Again, I would agree, but I would say a lot of the CCM you and others like David Cloud criticize as being "profane" isn't really and it is a matter of you guys elevating what you prefer as music and insisting it is the holy kind.

8:01 AM, December 29, 2009  
Blogger Kent Brandenburg said...

Haydn,

I wouldn't cut you off for anything---it's why I have these conversations, with hopes of persuasion. However, worship is a separating issue. I believe we can know something that is sensual, worldly, fleshly, common, and profane in the way of music, just like we can in the way of language. Before CCM came along and then became popular through the Charismatic movement, everybody knew that. Everyone. This wouldn't even be a conversation. And you can see this type of cultural diffusion and dissipation everywhere---this is what we read in David Wells' books incidentally---that we can't judge whether something is bad art or kitsch or schlock. It's why we have Jesus' junk today and t-shirts that say "God's Gym." There is becoming increasingly no way to be profane anymore. So a Christian Ebner Frank Sinatra's (croons) his way through a sacred hymn and I can't judge it to be wrong. Do you get what I'm saying? When Sinatra himself knew what he was doing and now he is just being imitated, and guys like Fred here think it is good because it sounds like someone professional. It attacks discernment in a major way. The feeling people get from the music, they now think are the Holy Spirit---widespread existentialism. By the way, this was the very type of thing that Jonathan Edwards was talking about in his Treatise on the Religious Affections.

Fred can just sluff it off, call me a few names, say I'm from a very small group, but God is still concerned that He is being offered profane worship. Fred says, "No, I'm reading my standard into the Bible." I could say that like the Pharisees, people are reading false worship out of the Bible too---through their own traditions making the Word of God of no effect.

Certain parts of the Bible require "truth" to exist in the real world. For instance, Proverbs mentions a woman with the attire of a harlot, assuming that we know what that is. Postmodernism would say we can't know anything for sure like that, so we shouldn't judge that kind of dress anymore. So we get a woman in skin tight pants in biker get-up, spiked heels, and, well, that's the pastor's wife.

Fred,

You say you're concerned about slander. Are you? I made one bad link to a group and immediately corrected it and apologized. Everything else I've said is true. It can't be slander if it is true. I haven't reported anything untrue besides that wrong link, which is gone now. You make several false statements about me, I tell you, and you can't give in on any point. You leave the idea that I support anti-lordship salvation guys. That's fine with you. That says something about your relationship to the truth.

You don't mind using a kind of conversation that I would assume that you abhor. For instance, I googled Christian Ebner and what came up was the Bruno soundtrack again and again. You take a little shot that would say I would listen to Bruno, when I mentioned "google it." I asked a question about that.

I think it would be worth it to have a civilized conversation about this, but this type of combat it what I find normal here and at Pyro. I hope the best for you.

12:53 PM, December 29, 2009  
Blogger Hayden said...

Kent,

What you consider crooning does not make it sinful. That is the point that I am trying to make. I know of Christian Ebner (and some people who know him well), have heard him sing, and observed his character. Your read on him is wrong and based on a 'straw man' in your mind. (Look up Jubilant Sykes, Corey Welch and others that also sing at GCC)

If I sound similar to someone else, does that mean that I have embraced their false ideology?

Here is an example:

What if I heard you preach and your inflection and intonation sounded similar to some crackpot I heard on the radio? Does that mean that you have embraced said crackpots theology because you sound like him? You remind me of the crackpot so you must be the crackpot?

You are pretending to read Christian Ebner's heart when you do not even know your own heart my friend. You think he has some desire to stir passions in the hearts of people, how could you possibly know that? (By the way we are to worship in 'spirit and truth' and the psalms are not sans emotion)

I understand your argument, and have some sympathy with probably more of it than you think, but there is no music style that has the corner on reverence.

Reverence to the Lord is a heart attitude not a stylistic matter. (Africans can be as reverent as you are beating on drums when they worship)

PS You read the PDC, I would recommend that you go back and look at the section on worship.

What Rick Warren advocates is embracing not only the style of modern secular music but also the songs wholesale. (i.e. Playing "Jesus Take the Wheel" (by Carrie Underwood) in a service instead of hymns)

That WOULD NEVER HAPPEN AT GCC OR ANY OF THE AFFILIATED MINISTRIES! 'Resolved' may have what you consider to be a 'rocky' or 'breathy' sound to them but they are not even in the same league as PDC ideology. *John Mark, the leader of the worship at Resolved ins a neat guy that really loves the Lord as well) If you cannot see the difference, then you are not looking at it!

I hope you take my recommendation and read Bob Kauflin's book or even Harold Best's. (If you have any Dan Lucarni books, get rid of them, in my opinion :--))

LASTLY, why is it so important to you what goes on Sunday mornings at GCC? Shepherd the flock of God before you every week my friend.

I left GCC 4 years ago for ministry and haven't spent much time thinking about what they do as far as worship. (Actually, we are far more 'contemporary' than they are where I pastor, we sing and even have drums in our services, the horror!)

2:14 PM, December 29, 2009  
Blogger Matt Waymeyer said...

Kent,

I’ve been following this at a distance and only skimming the comment section, but I have a question to help clarify what you’re saying. Earlier you wrote that rock music’s “bombastic atonality and dissonance” are evidence of its rejection of God. Then, just above, you wrote: “I believe we can know something that is sensual, worldly, fleshly, common, and profane in the way of music, just like we can in the way of language. Before CCM came along and then became popular through the Charismatic movement, everybody knew that. Everyone.”

Here’s my question: What would you say to a non-musically trained (i.e., he’s never heard of “atonality” and “dissonance” and doesn’t have a clue what they are), sincere young believer who doesn’t happen to just “know” intuitively that certain songs or styles of music are worldly? How would you show him from Scripture that the songs he is singing in praise of God are actually an abomination to God? And please don't give me the title of a book; just take me to chapter and verse.

2:47 PM, December 29, 2009  
Blogger Kent Brandenburg said...

Fred,

One point I didn't get to my first comment. I'm not saying anyone is blatantly argument for disagreeing (this is something I think you know), but for the kind of argumentation or the lack thereof.

Haydn,

I'm not judging what kind of person Christian Ebner is, which is a kind of deflection, IMO, but judging the singing. And it is also not so much that he sounds like Frank Sinatra. Actually he's more sensual than Sinatra, but that he sings the crooning style that communicates sensuality. The point of crooning in its style was seductiveness, getting intimate with the audience, giving them that feel that you're right next to their ear, whispering it. The vocal technique with the throatiness all has an effect. The problem is using this for "worship." It's not that he sounds like Frank Sinatra per se, but that was used to help you understand. There's a whole section about this type of singing in Rolling Stones' History of Rock and Roll.

I've got to go, but I'll comment more later and answer Matt too.

11:28 PM, December 29, 2009  
Blogger Hayden said...

Kent,

Wow! That is a jump in logic. Because the Rolling Stones did it for that reason, therefore everyone is doing it.

Funny that you chose the Rolling Stones as an example, because my father-in-law was their promotion manager when they first came to the US. They even tried get him to eat some 'special' brownies once because he was so 'square'. (They wrote a song about him called 'The Under assisted West Coast Promotion Manager') Am I to ascertain, using your logic, that the nice old lady that is giving me brownies on Sunday is trying to drug me because that is what the Stones were trying to do to my father-in-law with their brownies?

Your argument just doesn't hold any water. You keep using words like 'assonance' and 'dissonance' and other words that are nowhere found in the Word of God.

I agree we ought to be reverent in worship, but reverence is a heart attitude not a stylistic consideration.

You seemed so concerned about closeness, what is so wrong with us having closeness with God? Isn't he immanent? The Psalms sound like they are about a 'close' God.

Anyway, I gotta go and get ready for Sunday, so don't think I am abandoning this conversation, but actually, I am. (I know you understand being a Pastor as well)

7:50 AM, December 30, 2009  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

Kent,
Again, the concept of "throaty" or "breathy" or whatever is subjective. What you think is sensual isn't to a whole lot of other people. I just heard Ebner at a Christmas concert at Grace. He was good. I actually was blessed by his song. And I say that as a guy who normally doesn't care for him because I am not a big Southern gospel person. But there was nothing "sensual" with his performance. In fact, with all the performances I have heard him do at Grace, never has he presented this Sinatra like presence. Maybe he does this on his personal albums or in a non-church related concert, but that is an entirely different venue than a worship service at Grace now isn't it?

8:28 AM, December 30, 2009  
Blogger donsands said...

"Because the Rolling Stones did it for that reason, therefore everyone is doing it.'

I just heard a Stones song this morning: "You Can't Always Get What You Want", and it has some lyrics that are simply about Mick Jagger's life experiences. He says, 'You can't always get want you want, but if you try sometimes, you get what you need'.

It's not a worship in the congregation song. But is this song alright to listen to? I think so, if you like it. You amy not like it.
It does have a nice back up choir in the song which I thought was quite good.
No doubt the Stones have written songs that go against the kingdom of God and righteousness, but can we listen to them, and not like them, or perhaps like them for the quality of musicianship and artistic value?

I tend to think even talented non-Christians who play there instruments, and write songs with deep thoughts, bring glory to God in their gifts, even though they have no reason to care about the Lord at all.

I don't know if this is a rabbit path, but this good discussion got me to thinking.

9:29 AM, December 30, 2009  
Blogger Kent Brandenburg said...

I'm going to give it one more shot. The standard really isn't "whether you were blessed" or not. Do you see what that centers on? We judge things by a different standard. We center on God and Who He is in worship. And there is such a thing as seductiveness and sensuality. Those concepts exist separate from the Bible and then Scripture uses them to describe things forbidden.

I don't like this being about Christian Ebner or anyone in particular, but about a belief that relates to worship. By the way, Haydn and Matt, I quoted John MacArthur on dissonance---that wasn't my words. That was a piece from him in his Ephesians commentary.

The Bible commands no corrupt communication. We have to judge what corrupt communication is. There is controversy about this today, if you haven't noticed, in evangelicalism. MacArthur called something "Grunge Christianity." Remember that. So what's wrong with Grunge? Is he off on this or can we actually judge these types of things? Music can be profane, as much as language can. You can deny this as much as those who deny certain profane language and we'll be to the place where we can't judge anything any more. The actual curse word will have to be mentioned in the Bible for it to be scripturally wrong. If not, we're Pharisaaically adding to the Bible.

Colossians 3:5 doesn't tell us to mortify or put to death just fornication or sexual immorality, but impurity, a certain kind of lust, inordinate affection, etc. And Tit 2 tells us that God's grace teaches us to deny worldly lust, but what is worldly lust? If we can't judge that anymore than we can't obey that verse. And when Rom 13 tells us to make not provision for the flesh, it would seem that it is possible to do that. "Be not conformed to this world" is not just saying "don't sin," but that we are not to conform to the spirit of this age. Is the spirit of the age represented in Rolling Stones music, Don? Should we be thinking on their music? Is it lovely and true and of good report and virtue?

And as far as the heart is concerned, a bitter fountain will not proceed out of a sweet source or spring. What proceeds is important to look at or judge? And the trumpet can send an uncertain sound. We can judge sounds. Music or art can be ugly and wrong---it isn't morally neutral. We can say that Love as Viewed through Chain Link Fence does not represent the God of the Bible or the love of the Bible. This is an attack on truth and discernment. It is postmodernism.

If this all makes me a flamethrower, then so be it. I think that ultra and hyper and all that is just a smokescreen. We should just deal with scripture, what it means and how it applies. It's just rhetoric meant to discredit a person with ad hominem. Fred says its a good argument, because it's "true." It's not even an argument, let alone a good one. It's essentially---there are more people in Egypt or Assyria than Israel, so....

Matt,

As far as what verses I would take a new convert. I would take him to Romans 12:1-2, Psalm 40:1-3, 1 Peter 2:12, Romans 13:14, 1 John 2:15, among other places and I would apply Scripture. We can know what smacks of the spirit of the age despite what men here are saying.

11:42 AM, December 30, 2009  
Blogger Kent Brandenburg said...

One more thing. I'm preparing for Wed eve Bible study and we're going through Luke, and are in chapter 8, parable of the soils. Notice that one of the soils is the worldly heart. 1 John 2:15 talks about the lust of the flesh (what feels good) and the lust of the eyes (what seems good) and the pride of life (it's about me). Worldly music that targets certain feelings, and music does that, does make for more thorny or weedy soil. Unbelievers come to a church, perhaps invited to a Christmas concert, and the music is tailored to them, sung in an entertainment-like fashion, and it actually does more to produce a false profession. They hear Jesus. Yes. They hear a true gospel, yes. But the truth of Jesus is mixed with worldliness and the worldliness wins out, because it is natural to the soil. The gospel is foreign to the worldliness. All of this, by the way, is stuff that MacArthur talks about in his books.

And by the way, how can we know what the "lust of the flesh" is? Aren't we assumed to know what that is? Can their be music that feeds lust? Yes! And so it is a danger on that level especially, the heart level.

Haydn, why am I concerned about what happens at Grace Church? You asked that. Because MacArthur influences a lot of people and they mimic or imitate him. A big chunk of that can be good. He exposits, exegetes. He's more conservative and holy than most, even like you've said. But we still have these issues that contradict Scripture and in practice his own teaching. That's why I called my post "Church Growth Hypocrisy."

12:48 PM, December 30, 2009  
Blogger donsands said...

"Is the spirit of the age represented in Rolling Stones music, Don? Should we be thinking on their music? Is it lovely and true and of good report and virtue?"

It's basically humanistic. Just as a lot of secular music is. Some artists like to share what's going on inside their heart. That's what many do. Some don't. It can be good or bad.

The music makes no difference whatsoever; that is the melody. It is the words which we need to look at seriously, and they can be wrong for sure.

I like a lot of Bruce Srpingsteen's songs for example. He writes about life. He wrote an LP about 9-11, which I thought was very good and some of the songs were quite moving.


I love to sing hymns, psalms, and spiritual songs when we gather to worship the Father in Spirit and truth. I like to sing them all the time to be honest.

I see the world, and the spirit of this age, as twfold. In Jesus' day our Lord referred to the religious people as the world. So there is a religious world, and spirit of the age, which would have been the self-righteous people in our Lord's day, who are trusting in their own good works, and who have a form of godliness.

And there are non-religious crowd, which are your ungodly people, who sin, and love their sin; the unrighteous 1 Cor 6:9.

When I first became a Christian, I still enjoyed my music, but I began to love the things of God.
I then started to go to a Holiness church, and there I started to disgard my music, and I began to buy Jimmy Swaggert records.

A little later on I was introduced to CCM, and found some of it to be excellent. Some was very cheasy as well.

And through the study of Scripture over the years I found that the Lord had set me free to enjoy things that my Holiness friends said were Taboo: music, movies, must go to church three times a week, KJV Bible, no drinking, smoking, nor dancing, etc.

I found that I needed to clean up my inside, not the outside, which the Pharisees were very good at.

And of course when the heart is being molded by the Spirit, the outward workings will be godly. Especially when we are proud, lusting, and self-focused, and admit we are, and hate that we love our sin.

Love is the fulfillment of the law. I love Christ, and I will always be incredibly grateful for His taking my sin upon Himself: "Not the part, but the whole is nailed to the Cross. Praise the Lord!"

I appreciate your wanting to be holy Kent. I wish I had your conviction at times.

I am a Christian, but I must say, I'm not a very good one.

1:36 PM, December 30, 2009  
Blogger Hayden said...

Kent,

Thanks for sharing your heart on this subject.

I agree that we are to make no provision for the flesh Rom 13:14, but keep reading Romans 14:1-23 my friend.

I really see much of this being and issue of conscience. You think it is so clear that certain styles of music are clearly worldly, then why are you the only one that sees it? I have read extensively on the topic and teach the Word expositionally like you. (So does Matt Waymeyer), if it is so clear, why can we not see it? Matt and I are from different towns, and he has the misfortune of loving the Packers. We both come from different backgrounds. We went to the same Seminary (as did Fred). Why is this so obscured? Is it because we are more worldly than you? (Do we need some super secret glasses to read the Bible with to see it? (That was a rhetorical joke))

I would suggest that you read the book "Worldliness" by CJ Mahaney, but I know how you feel about him based on your website. He rightly defines worldliness as "not consisting of outward behaviors, though our actions can certainly be an evidence of worldliness within'. Wordliness is literally, 'living as if God does not exist'.

I think the emphasis that the book "worldliness" has is the right one. CJ states... "What should consume our thoughts and affections is not resisting worldliness but the glory and grace of God revealed at the cross. We must take the sin of worldliness seriously, to be sure... but its eradication is not an end in itself. Resisting worldliness is absolutely vital but not ultimately most significant. Jesus Christ is most important.... Worldliness is so serious because Christ is so glorious."

That is not a focus I see in your writing friend. I hear lots of arguments with Scriptures talking about worldliness but you must ultimately define it. Your definition, and MacArthur's frankly, focuses on externals of music.

Nice chatting with you, my friend.

PS MacArthur wrote his Ephesians commentary in 1986. Have any of your views changed or grown over time? Before you label him a hypocrite, ask yourself if he might have a bit of a different take on the subject now?

2:56 PM, December 30, 2009  
Blogger Matt Waymeyer said...

"Misfortune of loving the Packers"???

Now that's downright offensive.

3:47 PM, December 30, 2009  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

MacArthur wrote his Ephesians commentary in 1986. Have any of your views changed or grown over time? Before you label him a hypocrite, ask yourself if he might have a bit of a different take on the subject now?

Additionally, the commentary reflects material that was preached from 78-81 or thereabouts. Thus, it is more than 30 years old. I would imagine John probably retains some of that sentiment now, though I don't want to put words in his mouth. But just like any good pastor who grows and matures over time, how one thinks about an issue becomes refined, music being one of them.

I had a similar background as Don: All music was of the devil. My growth in the Word and holiness has helped me see clearly what true worldliness is, and it is not listening to secular music.

4:53 PM, December 30, 2009  
Blogger Hayden said...

Fred,

How about doing a little writing on the topic of 'worldliness'? I am swamped with sermon prep, otherwise I would do it myself.

5:13 AM, December 31, 2009  
Blogger Hayden said...

Matt,

I grew up in Buffalo that has a team that knows how to get people fired up to lose Super Bowls.

Good thing that I am a baseball fan instead of football fan :--) Go Yankees!

9:55 AM, December 31, 2009  
Blogger Hayden said...

Just one last though. In my study for John 4, I came across this by James Boice...

[speaking of liturgy] For any given congregation, one type of service will presumably be more valuable than another. But the decision regarding what that type of service will be ought to be arrived at-not by asking whether one likes emotional or nonemotional hymns, extemporaneous or read prayers, congregational responses or silence- in short, whether one prefers Anglican, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist, Congregational or Quaker services- but by asking how effective the service is in turning the attention of the worshiper away from the service itself to God.

10:04 AM, December 31, 2009  
Blogger donsands said...

"I grew up in Buffalo that has a team that knows how to get people fired up to lose Super Bowls."

Well, they did go to 4 straight Super Bowls. How many teams have done that?

10:05 AM, December 31, 2009  
Blogger Matt Waymeyer said...

"Well, they did go to 4 straight Super Bowls. How many teams have done that?"

If losing Super Bowls is indeed the goal, then yes, few teams (other than the Vikings) can hold a candle to the Bills.

10:31 AM, December 31, 2009  
Blogger donsands said...

"If losing Super Bowls is indeed the goal, then yes, few teams (other than the Vikings) can hold a candle to the Bills."

Good point. I was just saying.

Happy New Year in His grace and peace!

1:18 PM, December 31, 2009  

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