Monday, February 06, 2006

BreakPoint | Musical Mush

Chuck Colson is usually dead-on-target with his commentaries. But this time he swings barely wide.

He begins with a complaint about "meaningless music" in church--or rather, what passes for music and goes under the label of "Contemporary Christian Music", which I find neither Christian nor musical. But he goes on to lodge a complaint about Christian radio stations dropping their Bible study programs in favor of all-music formats.

True enough, that last is a big mistake on the part of Christian radio station managers. Music has its place, and Bible study has another place, and they both belong on the radio.

But that's only part of the problem. The other part is the sounds that are offered to God under the general category of "music." Those songs fall just as short of the mark as did Cain's sacrifice, in Genesis 4.

Music is probably the art form of which God is most likely to approve, and the one most important to God. Saint Paul discusses music in greater detail than he does any other art form. He names three specific kinds of songs that are appropriate for a Christian to offer up to the Lord. They are:

  1. Psalms--the best example of songs lifted straight out of Scripture. This demonstrably includes the Book of Psalms but might also include Mary's Magnificat ("My soul doth magnify the Lord...") and the song of the Israelites after they crossed the Red Sea.
  2. Hymns--songs that directly quote or paraphrase Scripture.
  3. Spiritual odes--songs clearly inspired by Scripture. The old standby Amazing Grace would be a good example.
Sadly, what we too often get today, particularly from "Praise Bands" and "Worship Teams," are repetitious lyrics, all too often set to music designed to make you move, not to move you--and certainly not to put you into a frame of mind to contemplate just how Great God really is. A steady diet of that would risk turning anyone's brain to mush. Playing or singing that in church makes you wonder why God doesn't make the winds howl every time they do it.

So the problem is more than radio stations and even some churches shortchanging or dispensing with sermons or messages in favor of one music number after another. The problem is also that the music itself is some of the worst music ever written. Shame on all those music directors for offering such pablum to God's ears.

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