What the Sufficiency of Scripture Does Not Mean Concerning the CCM Debate

May 20, 2013

Second Timothy 3:15-17 definitively asserts the sufficiency of Scripture. Applying that teaching to the CCM debate, some argue that there must be a direct reference to things such as specific music styles in order for us to speak definitively about the propriety of their use in Christian worship.

Several passages show us that this is a mistaken approach to the CCM debate:

1. Psalm 19 teaches us that God is continuously infallibly communicating moral truth to all people without the use of any words and regardless of whether they ever hear any Scripture or not. Especially in connection with other teaching in the Psalms, God’s doing this has important implications for the CCM debate (see Natural Revelation, Music Related to God’s Providence, . . .).

2. Titus 1 unequivocally supports believers’ using statements by expert secular authorities to confirm their own biblically based assessments of moral issues in the lives of people (see Titus 1 and the CCM Debate). On the authority of Titus 1 (and other Scripture), believers are justified in arguing against the use of CCM by citing secular authorities who confirm their own negative assessments of it.

3. Mark 6 and Matthew 14 show us that Scripture can communicate authoritatively that an activity can be sensual by only mentioning the activity itself in a given context and without having to give any details about the activity. This observation validates the understanding that certain Scriptural statements about music need not be explicit or detailed in order to teach us that music can be sensual (see Will the Sensuality of CCM in Your Church . . .).

4. First Corinthians 11 is another passage that helps us to know what the sufficiency of Scripture does not mean for the CCM debate. Although its teaching and relevance are related to those of Psalm 19, this passage has unique aspects that warrant treating it separately.

Even “Nature” Taught the Corinthians That Something Was Shameful

Paul wrote to believers in Corinth to instruct them concerning the use of head coverings while they were praying or prophesying (1 Cor. 11:1-16). To support his argumentation for his teaching about that practice, he cited the teaching that even “nature” provided them:

1Co 11:13 Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered?

 14 Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?

 15 But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.

Although there are many debates about various aspects of this passage, it is indisputable that Paul held that a source other than Scripture was teaching the Corinthians infallibly that something was shameful. Paul thus believed and taught that Scripture was not the only source of authoritative information that informed believers about the moral nature of certain things.

The Specificity of Nature’s Moral Teaching to the Corinthians is Noteworthy

Paul declared that “nature” was teaching the Corinthians that if a man was having long hair, it was a shame to him (1 Cor. 11:14). A non-biblical source of information, therefore, was teaching them authoritatively about the moral character of a specific aspect of the hair of a man.

Moreover, we must note that because God made humans to have hair on their heads, hair itself is not amoral—it is morally good. Yet, a non-biblical authority was instructing the Corinthians that long hair was a shame to a man.

Does “Nature” Teach Us about the Moral Value of Music?

Before we can answer the question of whether “nature” teaches us anything about the moral value of music, we should consider at least briefly what “nature” means in this passage. Some hold that it means what is observable in the natural world that God created. Some believe that it refers to intrinsic moral perspectives that God has put within humans. Some seem to equate “nature” in this passage with culture.

Views that combine these ideas in various ways probably also exist. Regardless of what the word “nature” means here, it is clear that Paul was teaching that something other than Scripture was teaching the Corinthians that something would be shameful concerning something that in and of itself was actually moral.

For an example of how “nature” teaches us about the moral value of music, listen to the following audio with your eyes closed and try to detect impartially whether what is sung is sensual music or not: Nature’s Teaching About Music. Were you not able to know that this music was sensual in spite of there not being any sensual words sung by the singer?

As this example plainly shows, a believer does not need to have Scriptural teaching about what makes music sensual in order to know that this song was sensual. The sufficiency of Scripture does not mean that Scripture must provide an explanation of what comprises music that is sensual.

Rajesh

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