Apr. 27, 2022

An Anointed Ministry, Part VI

(con't from Part VI)

It seems obvious that among the various Christian "churches," denominations, and faith-based groups of the present day there is significant misunderstanding of the purpose of music in worship.  To view or promote the music made at a worship event as a means to facilitate an encounter with God or that it will move people closer to God would be a rather serious theological error.  In this schema, music becomes a mediation between God and man, an idea which is closer actually to ecstatic pagan practices than to Christian worship.

Popular, well-meaning, but mistaken notions such as this undermine the foundational biblical truth of the Christian faith that Christ is the only Mediator between God and man and that He alone is the One Who reconciles us to God.  It seems ironic that while many Christians deny the sacramental role of those ordinances which Christ Himself gave to His church, viz. baptism and the Lord's Supper, they are fine with granting the music at a worship event some sort of sacramental power as if it were a means by which we enter the presence of God and receive His saving benefits.  The fact of the matter is, there is no evidence whatsoever in Scripture that music mediates direct encounters or experiences with God -- this is actually a pagan notion far from Christian.

There's a fine line to be drawn here, one upon which, unfortunately, not all professed ministers of the gospel of Christ agree.  When the music at an event is looked upon as a means to encounter God it can lead to several negative consequences, not the least of which is that the musicians become a surrogate for the Person of God's Spirit Who alone assumes that role in drawing people to Christ (John6:44).  Any time the people in a congregation start believing that the performing musicians on the platform at a worship event are successfully moving them into God's presence the musicians will have attained a status that is far too high for their own good.

In some congregations. as praise bands and lighting have grown, pulpits have correspondingly shrunk and even disappeared.  For those young church-goers today whose ears are accustomed to a hard driving rock beat, music provides the elusive swing and sway while the Bible is, for them, more prosaic.  It isn't unusual therefore, in many contemporary Christian services and gatherings where music is given a prominent role in worship, for God's Word to be shortchanged and marginalized.  Faith however does not come from music, dynamic experiences, or supposed encounters with God; it is birthed and strengthened through the proclamation of God's Word (Rom.10:17).  When people get to associating God's presence with a particular feeling from a musical experience the question arises as to what happens when they no longer feel it.  Such believers often search for churches where the praise band, orchestra, or pipe organ produces in them the feelings they're chasing when the reality of God in their lives actually depends upon the Person of God's Spirit drawing them to Christ, not on subjective experiences.

There is also the tendency for people who identify a feeling as an encounter with God where only a particular kind of music produces that feeling to insist that this same type of music be played regularly in their church or worship gatherings.  If everyone else in the congregation were to agree with that, then unity among them, albeit in error, is a possibility ... but, if others depend upon a different kind of music to produce the feeling that is important to them, then potential division within the church of Christ, one of the things the devil is interested in stirring up, is cultivated.  For anyone who gets used to associating particular feelings from listening to music as encounters with God, their demands for what produces those feelings usually become very rigid.  This is one reason why certain well-meaning pastors who are trying to hold their congregations together sometimes succumb to the temptation to offer multiple styles of worship services which, unfortunately, can have the unwanted and unintended effect of sanctioning division and self-centeredness.  There is but ONE style of a worship service.  And that is to have Almighty God and Jesus Christ at the center of it.

The devil understands this and uses music and musicians, as tools and surrogates, respectively, to cunningly deceive the unwary by getting them to think that music is useful for drawing people to their object of worship, something that is nowhere found in Scripture and actually has more in common with pagan practices.  Sadly, some pastors and even certain world renouned Christian evangelists have not been immune to this thinking, unfortunately.  Christ said that no one can come to Him unless the Father Who sent Him draws them (John6:44).  The agent which does the "drawing" is none other than the Holy Spirit, NOT the fine arts or any other human agency.  It is the Person of God's Spirit Who reveals to someone, in gentle spiritual nudgings and inner awareness, Who Christ is, how much Christ loves them, and why they need Him.  This was revealed to the apostle Peter, for example, NOT by song or hymn but solely and exclusively by the Spirit of God working on his mind supernaturally (Matt.16:13-17).  It's absolutely biblical to use song and hymn to TEACH the message of Christ (Col.3:16), but there's nothing in Scripture to indicate that God has ever used song or hymn as an agency to DRAW people to Christ or that people should presume that the Holy Spirit resorts to using musical sound vibrations to reach the hearts of men when all else fails.  Those who have been saved at a certain worship service who claim it was the music at that event which drew them to Christ need to understand that it was the presence of God's Spirit at that event Who drew them, not the music they heard.  The music may or may not have been written or improvised under the guiding influence of God's Spirit, but the combination of tones, how they're arranged, and how they're realized in performance, no matter how uplifting and edifying the resulting sound may seem to be, has no saving power; remove the Holy Spirit from the equation and no one listening to worship music is saved.  Repeating, Christ Himself indicated that the Person of God's Spirit reaches the hearts of men supernaturally (John6:44).  It's rather important for those working in the music ministry to know and understand the subtlety of this difference.

SOMETHING ELSE DEMANDS COMMENT:  Those contemporary composers who are writing art music for the King of Instruments authentically (that is, on an unrestricted canvas with freedom unabridged to express the entire range of musical thought and human emotion at the touch of a key) may be surprised to learn that Satan, the devil of old whose hatred for God is implacable and incurable, has tempted and swayed certain contemporary composers to write so-called Dark Gothic organ music, sometimes called Dark Ambient Fantasy music, to promote his own devious agenda to dupe, befool, and lure as many unsuspecting human souls as he can, distract them from the Word of God, blind the minds of unbelievers so they cannot understand the gospel of Christ, and, ultimately, get them to forfeit their own lives.  This is a deadly serious matter.  Not satisfied simply tampering with, hustling, mis-recording, and redubbing BWV 565 as "the Dracula toccata," something which would have had J.S. Bach infuriated [See blog, Bach d minor, Part III], self-serving individuals like these have used their God-given talents and modern music-writing technology in even more revolting ways by composing brand new pagan ritual and satanic ceremonial organ music of their own, making computer-generated audio clips of the same, and posting these on social media as Dark Gothic slide shows easily accessible, even to children.  These pathetic, wretched musicians, sad to say, are also dishonest about revealing who they are -- they adopt fictitious mystery names to conceal their true identities, deviously try to hide behind them, have no clue about how many other culpable people these musical creations of theirs will irretrievably harm, and don't care.  The organ music they manage to forge is typically devoid of animated counterpoint, is improvisatory in nature, and generally separates into three primary stereotypical types:  1) the brooding, mysterious piece of irregular free rhythm and arcane mood, 2) the lively dance-like piece of thin texture and regular rhythm, and 3) the invariably loud piece of acrimonious mood having dissonant notes and chords held against animated repetitive figuration.  Within this broad classification there are multiple subtypes of each grouping which vary in texture, tempo, dynamics, and registration.  This trinity of types and subtypes also is found blended into a single massive admixture, producing a lengthy meandering fantasia that could occupy an hour or more of listening.  Written invariably in minor keys using a triadic tonal vocabulary, this music is jam-packed with a preponderance of minor chords moving above droning pedal points; it makes liberal use of tritones and other dissonant intervals, tonally ambiguous bare 4ths and 5ths, and is peppered with agitated, repeated patterns that rudely intrude themselves.  Not surprisingly, while it's cleverly contrived for its intended effect of fostering nervous apprehension and dread among listeners, this music is ambiguous in form, speaks only in somber and abridged musical language, writes its own rules, and takes unexpected turns, sometimes roaming about the tonal landscape like a roaring lion, modulating to suit itself.

Now, it's disturbing enough that creepy "haunted house music" like this manufactured solely for its shock factor is being adored and applauded as the work of genius, which it is NOT -- it cannot begin to compare with the masterpieces of giants like Bach, Reger, Franck, or Vierne -- but it's nothing short of horrifying to discover that more and more gulled individuals who have come under its malicious charms, people for whom Christ died, are filling their ears with it every day and seriously contemplating this bogus and pretentious babel for their own wedding and funeral music.  Make no mistake:  Dark Gothic or Dark Ambient Fantasy music is NOT authentically written, as thus defined; it is nothing of the kind -- it is written in a tenebrous and ghoulish shorthand using means that are always predictably dictated -- it is improvised in a murky and caliginous dialect that is always slavishly followed -- it is the product of dark intelligence and design -- a morose and at times raucous, counterfeit clamor practiced by rueful, lamentable souls who have dabbled in the occult, hardened their hearts, turned their backs on and mocked God, Christ, and the Bible, planted their flags with the powers of darkness, put themselves in a very dangerous place, and are quite happy to stay there [See blog, An Annointed Ministry, Part V].  Crafted under and inspired by the Muse of demonic influence and publicized from behind a wall of secrecy, scores like this (some of which have been made printable for a fee) are an artificial and defective substitute for the real thing; such scores are fabricated by imprisoned minds held in restraints; it is creativity stripped of liberty and license, robbed of all traces of equanimity, composure, peace, serenity, poised assurance, and joy, and are coldly calculated to rob the listener of the same.  Such scores in their cookie-cutter semblance have nothing to teach, no innocuous or beneficial use not even for private let alone public amusement, and, by sounding as if heavily influenced by supernatural or supernormal powers or some secret knowledge of them, stand in bold defiance of the righteous wrath and retributive justice of Almighty God Who considers ALL forms of occultism an abomination (1Cor.10:21).  For organists and church musicians in whom the Spirit of God is or should be dwelling, this is as repulsive and sinful as it gets, it spits at and mocks the one true God Who gives the great gift of music to mankind, and all people will do well to take due notice of these truths, if they haven't already, and govern themselves accordingly. 

God does not give those in Christ a spirit of fear but of power, of love, and of a sound mind (2Tim.1:7).  Scripture is full of exhortations to God's people to sing and make music to the Lord, and the God of this Universe has been gracious to give human beings the means and the great gift of music to praise Him.  It's important therefore for organists and church musicians to keep in mind that God-honoring music in worship is NOT made to entertain the crowd, garner applause, facilitate an encounter with God, or to draw people to Christ.  It definitely IS made however for at least 4 other biblical purposes:  1) to offer praise of and thanksgiving to God (Ps.147:7), 2) to express the joy of salvation in loud and jubilant rejoicing (Ps.98:4-5), 3) to teach the message of Christ and admonish others in a spirit of gratitude (Col.3:16), and 4) to demonstrate, feed, and strengthen the faith of believers (Matt.26:30, Mark14:26, Acts16:25).