Whether or not all musical styles are inherently good and inherently fit for use in divine worship is a key point of dispute among believers concerning CCM. Because Genesis 4:21 is the earliest biblical revelation about humans playing musical instruments, examining its relevance to the CCM debate is vital.
In my experience, however, Genesis 4:21 has not been considered thoroughly by most people on either side of the CCM debate. I have previously written several articles that treat various aspects of what Genesis 4:21 reveals, especially in relation to certain issues concerning CCM.1
This post brings out yet another facet of its teaching about music that applies to the CCM debate in a way that I have not previously discussed. To understand the application of this facet of Genesis 4:21 to the CCM debate, we have to examine it in relation to its surrounding context that includes many biblical references to divine creative activity and some other references to human creative activity.
References to God as the Creator of All Things in Genesis 1-11
Through at least 30 direct references to divine creative activity2 in Genesis 1-11,3 God indisputably asserts at the beginning of our canonical arrangement of Scripture that He is the Creator of all created things. It is worth noting also that all of these references speak of God’s creating things that man did not play any role in their creation (for example, light, the expanse, and the animals).
Furthermore, it is also noteworthy that only one of these 30 references speaks of God’s making something that humans could conceivably even have made or played a role in its making: “Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them” (Gen. 3:21). Based on this data, we know that the Spirit is purposely directing to our attention numerous statements about distinctively divine creative activity in these chapters.
References to Humans as the Makers of Certain Things in Genesis 1-11
Only after we have read 24 statements about what God has created do we encounter the first statement about something that man made:
Gen 3:7 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.
This earliest reference to human creative activity speaks of humans taking something that they did not make (the fig leaves) and fashioning something else out of it (aprons; for a fuller explanation of the vital importance of this text for issues concerning the CCM debate, see this post).
Genesis 4 provides the next information that we have about human creative activity (Gen. 4:17, 20, 21, 22). Among those statements is the earliest statement that we have about human musical activity:
Gen 4:21 And his brother’s name was Jubal: he was the father of all such as handle the harp and organ.
We must not fail to note that the first information that the Spirit gives to us about human musical activity directly concerns not their singing but their playing musical instruments. Moreover, the Spirit does not frame His presentation of this revelation in such a way as to highlight God’s working in these people to produce and do what they did.
Instead, the Spirit says to us that Jubal was “the father” of all those who were playing these instruments. By framing this statement in that way, the Spirit is clearly emphasizing that Jubal was either the inventor of these instruments or the one who pioneered playing them in some way or both.
Regardless of which way we understand this statement, it is clearly not presenting God as the One who created the style or styles in which Jubal and the others mentioned here played these instruments. Rather, and in sharp contrast to the surrounding profound emphasis on divine creation, the Spirit is highlighting that fallen humans created these musical styles.
Application to the CCM Debate
Christian supporters of the use of rock music and CCM rely heavily on an argument based on God as the Creator of all musical styles to support their views. They argue that God is the Creator of all musical styles, and therefore they are all inherently good and inherently fit for use in divine worship.4
Scripture, however, not only does not say anything about God as the One who created all musical styles but also it directly emphasizes the opposite by saying that fallen humans originated the musical styles that are in view in the earliest biblical revelation about humans playing musical instruments. For this reason, discussions of rock music and CCM that defend Christian use of these types of music by appealing to God’s creating them as inherently good and therefore necessarily fit for divine worship are seriously flawed because they do not account properly for how the Bible in Genesis 4:21 frames its first presentation of human musical activity.
When believers who hold to the propriety of Christian use of rock music and CCM seek to defend their views, they must not use an illegitimate argument from the supposed divine creation of these styles to justify their views. To defend their views properly, they must show from the Bible why they believe that these styles are fit for Christian use in spite of biblical evidence that shows that not even all the animals that God originally created as good were acceptable for offering to Him in worship even by the time of the Flood.
1 See these previous posts for more information.
2 Genesis 1:1, 6, 7, 9, 11, 14, 16, 20, 21, 24, 25, 26, 27, 31; 2:2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 9, 18, 19, 22; 3:3, 21; 5:1, 2; 6:6, 7; 7:4.
3 Genesis 1-11 is a natural place to limit our examination because these chapters naturally go together in providing us with information about early human history.
4 See my post Are All Musical Styles Inherently Moral? for a biblical treatment of evidence from Genesis that disproves the view that all musical styles are inherently moral.