26 May 2007

Contemporary Worship Music - A Starting Point

John Frame sums up the second chapter, A Theology of Worship: Some Basics, in his book, Contemporary Worship Music: A Biblical Defense, in the following way:
Based on theological considerations fairly widely accepted in Christian churches, I believe we have seen several important reason to at least consider the use of new music in worship.

1. God's transcendence does not exclude, but rather implies his nearness to His creation and especially to His worshiping people.
2. The God-centeredness of worship does not exclude, but rather requires, consideration of the worshiper. Although God does not need contemporaneity to play His role in the worship meeting, human worshipers do.
3. In determining the rules of worship, we should recognize that sola Scriptura requires a willingness to examine critically even the most revered human traditions.
4. Music is an area in which we have little explicit scriptural direction, and in which, therefore, human creativity should be encouraged, within the limits of general biblical standards.
5. Communication is important in worship, and intelligible communication must be contemporary at least in the sense of being understandable to modern ears.
6. The Great Commission requires us to speak, to some extant, the verbal and musical languages of people outside the church.
7. Maintaining unity among the diversity of the church's membership requires that we defer to one another in love, being willing to sing one another's music rather than insisting on the music we enjoy.
8. The singing of simple, contemporary songs plays a role not only in evangelism but also in the nuture of God's of people.

There you have it, John Frame's starting point for the defense of Contemporary Worship Music (CWM). Even as one who considers himself a follower of the Regulative Principle, I still emphatically believe that CWM has a place in today's church. The above points 4, 5 & 6 I think deserve much consideration. There is no musical style for which we can employ today that we can glean from Scripture. It is simply not there to be found. Godly judgment must be used here to make wise choices. Neither can we sing with a dictionary in our hands looking up antiquated words. We must use words that all can understand and maintain a level of integrity that worship music requires. Let's face it, we've all sung words in some of these older hymns that we never use any other time in our modern speech. C'mon, what's the point? I out right reject the charge that simple praise choruses is a dumbing-down. How better to inculcate the simple truths of God to the believer and unbeliever. Lastly, concerning #6, if many in the church are turned off by older styles of music and outdated words in the lyrics, how much more so will the unbeliever be? We must communicate so that all can understand and participate in the worship service.

Next time I plan to offer and defense of how CWM naturally fits within the Regulative Principle.

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