"Special Music" in church

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Hippo

Puritan Board Junior
The big difference is that if someone is singing why should everyone not join in, I would feel the same way if everyone had a glockenspiel in front of them and music was played during the offering, everyone should join in. It is the communal aspect that is so important for church worship.

Solo's are inherantly offensive in church as there is absolutely no point in them apart from really really bad ones.

But following your thought, playing an instrumental is decidedly non-communal if no one else is singing, right? I promise I'm not merely trying to be difficult here.

If everyone is playing it is communal, I am not suggesting that one person sing and everyone plays but that either all play or no one plays.

The argument would have to be that the music during the offering is not an element of praise, and this is probably not that bad an argument but it does beg the question of why do it if it is not praise.

I guess it is done because it is nice and "feels" spiritual and holy. I have answered my own question here and I agree with you that it is actually really bad to play music during the offering unless everyone joins in.

This is a good discussion, it is really good to knock these points around and challnge your own assumptions.
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
Let me say first of all that I am opposed to set-apart choirs (though not good singing by a congregation), instrumental solos, vocal solos, etc., etc., within the life of the church. Why do people do them? Well one reason (although not a good one) is that people feel that they are not serving God unless they do something at church. So if someone has (or thinks he has) vocal talent, in order to "serve the Lord" with that "gift" he must "do a special number". People like them for the same reasons as they like any low-quality music, with an added feel of "holiness". When this is your mindset towards special music, then someone who opposes it is seen as having a bad attitude, probably stemming from sinful pride in that they would be unwilling to humiliate themselves by bawling and moaning in front of the congregation. This is also why young people are pushed into it; if you make it about your willingness to serve God (as I have seen done on multiple occasions), then "it's such a blessing" to see the young people ready to "serve". Part of the solution to that, I think, is to emphasize that serving God is not only or mainly done in an ecclesiastical context. A carpenter can glorify God without displaying his talent for carpentry within the church; if someone is really gifted musically, they can do the same (thanks to John MacArthur for that observation).

But I think it does ultimately boil down to the RPW (although you can certainly launch pragmatic arguments against it, such as the tendency to pride, the torture to those with musical sensitivity, etc.): who gets to define what "serving God" looks like? If it's God, then we have to find Scriptural warrant for special music. If it's us and our feelings, then we just have to be careful about not turning it into a performance, making sure content is doctrinally sound, etc., etc. Personally, I think special music time is a great time to get a drink from the water fountain in the hallway.
 

Hippo

Puritan Board Junior
I think special music time is a great time to get a drink from the water fountain in the hallway.

The only time that I have left a Church due to my disagreement with an RPW type issue was this Christmas when my old Church had a doll in a crib at the front of the church during a Christmas service.

I just quietly walked out and went home, when I queried what had happened I did not even get a response for several months and then I was told that I should not see it as a problem as it was done "for the children".

What a great idea to let children think of the God of the universe as a plastic doll.
 

AV1611

Puritan Board Senior
Not sure what you're referring to when you say cultic activity tied to temple worship. By cultic activity, you're not referring to singers praising and thanking God, lifting up their voices in praise, and singing Psalms, right? :confused:

I am talking about those rituals that were specific to Temple worship. Hope that helps.
 

Kim G

Puritan Board Junior
A carpenter can glorify God without displaying his talent for carpentry within the church; if someone is really gifted musically, they can do the same (thanks to John MacArthur for that observation).

Good observation. Thanks for sharing.:)
 

Craig

Puritan Board Senior
So if someone has (or thinks he has) vocal talent, in order to "serve the Lord" with that "gift" he must "do a special number". People like them for the same reasons as they like any low-quality music, with an added feel of "holiness". When this is your mindset towards special music, then someone who opposes it is seen as having a bad attitude, probably stemming from sinful pride in that they would be unwilling to humiliate themselves by bawling and moaning in front of the congregation.

I think you make a good observation. This is pretty typical of evangelicalism...but instead of pointing out how everyone else does it wrong, I think it's best to consider if there is a way to do it right? Perhaps "special music" is the wrong thing to call it...I wouldn't call it "ministering to our hearts" necessarily, either.

I also would not say it is the antithesis of communal...Mike (Hippo) agreed with me that his argument was inconsistent...unfortunately, he didn't consider that I was challenging his premise.

How many RPW following churches encourage, or at least allow, members to pray while waiting to communally partake of the elements? My former OPC church did that...and they were far stricter on the RPW than my current church home. The *same* principle of communal emphasis which is being applied against solos and choirs applies *against* private prayer and meditation.

The argument itself is wrongheaded, and the selective application of the principle is arbitrary.

Am I saying special music is typically awful? Absolutely. Am I saying "special music" may supercede the Word? No. I am saying that hearing a familiar melody will cause our minds to recall biblical truth (using a familiar tune to a hymn or Psalm), and act as a proper guide for personal prayer during these times. With the proper principle guiding us, and pastoral/elder oversight: solos and instrumentals are quite appropriate for corporate worship.

I think the baby is being thrown out with the bathwater...and that may be necessary...but the tub needs inspecting before it can be refilled.
 
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