How “Inventors of Evil Things” (Rom. 1:30) Applies to Our Assessment of Certain Musical Styles

March 19, 2015

The apostle Paul concludes Romans 1 with a lengthy list that relates various sinful aspects of the evil lifestyles of humans who have depraved minds because of God’s judgment upon them:

Rom 1:28  And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;

 29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,

 30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,

 31 Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:

 32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

In the midst of the numerous specific vices that Paul names here, he writes that these people are “inventors of evil things” (Rom. 1:30). This statement has great importance for our understanding of how we are to assess certain musical styles, as can be seen by the following observations that are based upon it in various ways:

1. Paul says that these evil people invent evil things. Whatever things Paul has in mind here, therefore, cannot be said in any sense to be things that are created by God.

Scripture provides no evidence for saying that rock music was created by God, and it provides key teaching about human creative activity with things that were created by God that shows that no product of such human creative activity must necessarily be something that is fit for human use (see this post). Saying, therefore, that Romans 1:30 does not apply to rock music because rock music was created by God is an invalid argument against applying Romans 1:30 to our assessment of rock music.

2. Paul does not bother to specify at all what these evil things are that these evil people invent. Because he does not do so, we learn that there are humanly created evil aspects of these people’s lives that Paul had in mind that he did not believe he had to list out for his readers.Without his specifying what these evil inventions were, Paul expected his readers to know what these evil things were that these evil humans had invented.

Furthermore, his not specifying these evil aspects of the lives of these reprobate humans shows that this is another instance (cf. “and such like” [Gal. 5:21]) when Paul communicates to his readers that Scripture does not provide an exhaustive listing of human sinful activities. This very important observation shows that Scripture does not have to say explicitly that some human practice or invention is sinful for us to be able to say legitimately that it is unfit for human use.

The fact that Scripture does not say anything directly about rock music does not mean that we cannot say that we should reject it. Romans 1:30 and other passages provide believers with ample justification to reject rock music categorically.

3. When evil human beings who reject the knowledge of God and manifest in their lives many of the evils listed here specifically say that they have invented things to promote many of the very evils that are listed here, believers must heed what they say and not have anything to do with such evil things that these people have invented. Because many of the evil people who originated rock music and popularized it have testified directly of their evil intent in what they were doing, God-fearing Christians should reject rock music categorically as an evil invention of those who are “inventors of evil things.”

4. Careful Christians who reject rock music and all other styles of music derived from it based on the application of Romans 1:30 (and its surrounding context) to such testimonies do not have to be able to explain (with specific explanations about the music itself) why these styles are evil to know that they are evil. Scripture never places such a burden on believers, and it is sufficient to make such assessments based on the authority of the many statements by God that repeatedly tell believers not to fashion themselves according to the practices of the wicked (for example, Ps. 1:1; Rom. 12:1-2).

5. Because Paul gave this revelation about reprobate humans who are inventors of evil things in the same book that he gives his teaching about certain things that believers disagree upon (Rom. 14:1-15:3), we can be certain that Paul’s teaching about those questionable things does not apply to Christian use of any of the evil things invented by the evil people that he speaks of in Romans 1:30. Romans 14:1-15:13, therefore, does not justify Christian use of rock music and other styles based on rock music simply because believers disagree about the propriety of doing so.

Rajesh

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