The debate about the propriety of using Christian Contemporary Music has been going on for many years now. I recently was made aware of a dimension of the debate that I had not encountered before– some proponents of CCM who object to other believers’ using secular sources to address the issue.
According to this view, we should only use the Bible to decide whether or not music is moral or not. Almost immediately after I first heard of this objection raised against the use of secular sources, God brought to mind how Paul handled a serious problem in Crete.
Paul instructed Titus that he had left him in Crete so that he would “set in order the things that are wanting and ordain elders in every city, as [he] had appointed [him]” (Titus 1:5). He then related the necessary qualifications for such men (Titus 1:6-9).
He concluded his teaching about these qualifications by informing Titus that the elder must hold “fast the faithful word as he hath been taught [so] that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers” (Titus 1:9). He thus stressed the centrality of the elder’s adhering to and using sound doctrine from Scripture to both exhort believers in that sound doctrine and refute those who were contradicting it.
Paul then explained the necessity of such ministry by the elders by declaring the presence in Crete of “many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision” (Titus1:10). The destructive works of these evil men in subverting entire households had to be stopped by the elders’ skillful use of sound doctrine (Titus1:11).
In support of his own evaluation of the Cretians and of the necessity for the mouths of their false teachers to be stopped, Paul informed Titus that one of the Cretians’ own prophets had said, “The Cretians are always liars, evil beasts, slow bellies” (Titus 1:12). The prophet thus confirmed Paul’s assessment of the Cretians.
Paul then affirmed the truthfulness of the witness of this secular prophet (Titus 1:13a). Finally, based on his preceding instruction and the corroboration of his assessment by that of their own prophet, he commanded Titus to rebuke them sharply so that they would be sound in the faith (Titus 1:13b-16).
Paul thus handled this serious problem in Crete by exhorting Titus about the necessary verbal ministry of elders to oppose the perverse work of the false teachers among them. He based his exhortation and instruction to Titus upon his own evaluation of the Cretians and the corroborating witness of one of their own secular prophets.
We thus learn that a Pauline approach to handling a problem issue at times includes the use of one’s own scripturally informed assessments of the problem and the use of legitimate supportive data from non-biblical sources. When, therefore, many Christian leaders today use both their own assessments and corroboration from secular sources to urge God’s people to reject the viewpoint that music is neutral, they are using a valid scriptural approach.
This analysis of Titus 1 in relation to the CCM debate has shown that contemporary critiques of using non-biblical perspectives to address the issue of whether music is neutral or not are invalid. In handling the difficult problem of the use of CCM in the Church today, we should employ a Pauline approach of using present-day sources to support our own Bible-based evaluations of the issue.