Monday, April 28, 2008

No Simple Answers

Earlier this year, I began an examination on worship music and what can be gleaned for the Scripture to enlighten a proper understanding and execution of music in corporate worship. My conviction then and now ism primary in ascertaining a sound theory and practice of worship is an examination of the Bible itself. Attempting to begin anywhere else is automatically doomed to failure. The Reformed church has long recognized this and enshrined this insight in the regulative principle of worship. The Westminster Confession states this conviction well “The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture...there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and government of the church, common to human actions and societies which are to be ordered by the light of nature, and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word (I:6).” This balanced statement epitomizes the difficulty in considering issues such as what music is appropriate for use in corporate worship. While the Bible is vital in setting out the framework in which the discussion must be conducted, there is neither explicit or implicit warrant to back either the traditional or contemporary arguments. Any attempt to argue that the Bible clearly supports either side is inexcusable question begging. On the other hand, those principles deduced from human societies and the light of nature are equally ambiguous in providing guidance in what musical form is appropriate for a worship service. The fractured cultural context of the 21st-century tempers any hope that simple answers can be drawn by a facile examination of society. Like the attempt to find Biblical support for a particular music form, claims that society provides sure answers likewise shamelessly beg the question. How then can the Bible provide resolution in this contentious debate? It is by seeking answers deeper than a simple proof text, examining the very texture of Scripture itself to find guidance on this issue.

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