Archives For Quotes

The early Christian writers aimed no polemic at the nobler art music or the folk music of their day. Had they been opposed to it, they would no doubt have spoken against it. Their denunciations of music were not general; rather, they were aimed at a few well-defined targets: the music of the popular public spectacles, the music associated with voluptuous banqueting, the music associated with pagan weddings, and the music of pagan religious rites and festivities. As we have already seen, they were not alone in their denunciations. They joined their voices with those of pagan Romans who were painfully aware of the decay of their civilization.

—Calvin R. Stapert, A New Song for an Old World: Musical Thought in the Early Church, 145

Profoundly dangerous teaching about music from an influential writer on the subject:

Because true Christianity cannot be thought of apart from new creation, there should be no kind of music, however radical, however new, however strange, that is out of place in Christian worship, as long as it is faithfully offered. And no Christian, truly living by faith, should ever turn his or her back on and refuse to offer a musical piece simply because it is too radical.

—Harold M. Best, Music Through the Eyes of Faith, 154

In 1992, Tim Fisher wrote the following about CCM:

Christian Rebellion?

If it is true that rock music is the music of rebellion, then it follows that Christian rock music is the music of Christian rebellion. Christian rock exploits the generation gap that the secular rock culture has done so much to establish. The early arguments in favor of Christian rock pointed to it as a tool to draw masses to Christ and into the church. Twenty-five years of observation have shown just the opposite to be true. CCM is robbing our churches of their young people and turning them against their authorities—parents, pastors and Christian school teachers. CCM is breaking apart Christian colleges and organizations. It is polarizing the church into CCM supporters and nonsupporters. Pastors tell me regularly that no theological issue is breaking up their churches and causing people to leave like CCM.

—The Battle for Christian Music, 84-85

Is “Christian” rock “Christian” rebellion?

Tim Fisher expresses well the importance of singing Scripture in worship:

We have departed so much from the Word of God and the instruction of Scripture that probably not one church in a hundred ever sings Scripture at all! What a shame, since the New Testament tells us specifically that we ought to be using Scripture in our worship songs (not just scriptural thought, but Scripture). The only church hymnals in existence until 100 years ago were either primarily or totally Scripture passages or paraphrases. Songs of “human composure” were not even allowed in public worship until the nineteenth century. How far have we departed from the biblical ideal in such a short time! I am not advocating a total return to the Psalters, but I am insisting upon some return to songs of Scripture.

The Battle for Christian Music, 46

 

I was appalled to find recently an article in the Life Application Bible that asserts the following:

Music in Bible Times: Paul clearly puts forth the Christian view that things are not good or bad in and of themselves (see Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 14:7, 8, 26). The point should always be to worship the Lord or help others by means of the things of this world, including music. Music was created by God and can be returned to him in praise. Does the music you play or listen to have a negative or positive impact upon your relationship with God?

LAB, 759.

These statements that probably represent what many Christians believe about music are misleading. The first sentence is patently false:

Paul clearly puts forth the Christian view that things are not good or bad in and of themselves (see Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 14:7, 8, 26).

No, Paul does not teach this! Paul teaches that anything that God has in fact made is good in and of itself: “For every creature of God is good” (1 Tim. 4:4).

Also, I do not find a single statement in the Bible that says that “music was created by God” in the sense that is implied in this article.

Have you ever heard that Paul taught the Corinthians that it was shameful for women to cut their hair short or shave their heads because that was what the prostitutes in Corinth did? Pastor Minnick recently pointed out that Gordon Fee, who is a highly devoted egalitarian, wrote in his standard commentary on First Corinthians that there is zero historical evidence for that idea!

Here is what Fee has written about this very widespread false explanation for why Paul wrote what he did:

“It was commonly suggested that short hair or a shaved head was the mark of Corinthian prostitutes . . . But there is no contemporary evidence to support this view (it seems to be a case of one scholar’s guess becoming a second scholar’s footnote and a third scholar’s assumption).”1

The apostle Paul did not teach what he did in 1 Corinthians 11:5-6 because Corinthian prostitutes cut their hair short or shaved their heads. For a superb treatment of why Paul did teach what he did about head coverings and much more, I encourage you to listen closely to this recent message by Pastor Minnick: Harmonizing 1 Timothy 2 and 1 Corinthians 14.2


1 Gordon D. Fee, The First Epistle to the Corinthians in NICNT, 511

2 For clear biblical evidence that shows that Paul is speaking about an external head covering, see my post Haman, Head Coverings, and First Corinthians 11:1-16.

These six pointers provide much food for thought for believers who have a burden to pray for missionaries.

HOW TO PRAY FOR MISSIONARIES TODAY

by Allan & Robin Cuthbert, Sao Paulo, Brazil

1. CHRIST-GLORYING ESSENTIALS It is not so essential that you ask God to give us good health. The important thing is that He give us only the measure of health that will best glorify Him. Who knows but what it may be to His glory that we should be sick, and thereby demonstrate to the nationals about us that we have a God who can keep us in a perfect peace and joy, even in the midst of pain.

2. SUFFICIENT GRACE We do not want you to pray that God will give us an easy path on the mission field, but rather that He might give us grace sufficient to be overcomers for Him.

3. TIME TAKEN TO PRAY Do not pray so much that God will answer our prayers, as that God will keep us from being too busy to pray. Haven’t you thought of the fact that it is just as easy for us missionaries to be too busy to pray, as it is for you in the homeland to be too busy to take time with God?

4. STEWARDSHIP OF TIME It is not so important that you pray that God should bless our activities, as that God should censor our activities, for how easy it is for a missionary’s time and energy to be spent on second best things.

5. RESISTANCE TO TEMPTATIONS Please do not pray for us as though we were saints, living up on a high level, because we are missionaries. We who go as missionaries are subjected to temptation. Satan will determine in one way or another to hinder our testimony, to rob our lives of power or make our witness futile. We need your prayer that God will give grace and strength to resist temptation.

6. COMPASSION FOR LOST SOULS Won’t you remember please, that missionaries can become lonely; we can become discouraged, irritable, sharp, impatient with other missionaries. Above all, we want to tell you that we can do a great deal of missionary work without being on fire for the Lord. So we covet, above all, your prayers for us that we may ever live with our hearts aflame with passion for the lost and aflame with the glory and love of Christ.

 

–This article is from a prayer resource produced by my church.

Reading in a short biography of Jonathan Edwards, I was surprised to learn that David Brainerd, of whom I have never heard anything negative said, got into serious trouble when he was a student at Yale because he openly criticized the spiritual state of his superiors:

Far worse, some local traveling preachers, and even some Yale students, were saying the same thing. Just before the commencement the Yale trustees passed a regulation saying that “if any student of this college shall directly or indirectly say, that the rector, either of the trustees or tutors are hypocrites, carnal or unconverted men, he shall for the first offence make public confession in the hall, and for the second offence be expelled.” One of the main targets was an intensely spiritual and outspoken student named David Brainerd. Eventually Yale expelled Brainerd after he was overheard to remark that one of the tutors “had no more grace than a chair.”

. . . Even if students like David Brainerd went too far in criticizing their superiors, Edwards admired their deep spiritual intensity.

—George M. Marsden, A Short Life of Jonathan Edwards, 70

May we all learn from Brainerd’s failures in this regard and pray earnestly and regularly, “Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips” (Ps. 141:3).

Edwards now saw that the universe was essentially personal, an emanation of the love and beauty of God, so that everything, even inanimate matter, was a personal communication from God. So in contrast to many contemporaries, such as Franklin, who saw Newton’s laws of motion as providing the model for understanding an essentially impersonal universe, Edwards started with a personal and sovereign God who expressed himself even in the ever-changing relationships of every atom to each other. This dramatic insight would be the key to every other aspect of his thought. Like a mathematician who had discovered an elegant solution to an immense problem, Edwards was captivated by the beauty of the insight. He now found the doctrine of God’s sovereignty “a delightful conviction.”

—George M. Marsden, A Short Life of Jonathan Edwards, 21-22

Commentator David E. Garland takes a position on Paul’s teaching about meat offered to idols that differs greatly from what many believers today hold. He teaches,

In this section [1 Cor. 10:23-11:1], Paul tries to insure that the Corinthians do not misconstrue what he says, as they had previously (5:9-10) and think that he is insisting that they withdraw completely from society and have nothing whatsoever to do with unbelievers. He clarifies that food is food, and it is permissible to eat unless it is specifically identified as idol food, which puts it in a special category that is always forbidden to Christians.—1 Corinthians in Baker ECNT (2003: 486)

He thus holds that knowingly eating idol food is never right for Christians to do. He further teaches,

Food that may have an idolatrous history may be eaten unless it is specifically identified as idol food. When it is identified as idol food, however, the principle of love must overrule assumed knowledge or presumed rights. They must abstain out of concern for another’s conscience as well as to avoid arousing the wrath of God for violating their covenantal obligations (489).

He also provides historical evidence that shows that not all meat sold in marketplaces was first offered to idols. He writes,

Paul’s permission to eat whatever is sold in the marketplace presumes that not everything offered for sale had been contaminated by idolatrous rituals (491-492).

If Garland is correct, as I believe he is, many believers today are holding a dangerously wrong view that eating meat offered to an idol knowingly is no problem for a believer who knows the truth that an idol is nothing and that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is also nothing (1 Cor. 10:19). Paul does not mean by these statements that it is ok for believers knowingly to eat meat that has been offered to an idol as long as it is not in the context of idolatry—knowingly eating meat that has been offered to an idol is never right for a Christian!