A Very Brief Theology of Christian Worship Music

One question I like to occasionally ask myself (and our lead team) as we lead the musical portion of our worship services comes from theologian, John Frame, who asks, “Does what we sing help our people think more – or less – theologically?” After all, I have no interest in our folks leaving thinking, “Wow! What great music!” My goal is that they leave, almost off-balance, due to a head-on encounter with Christ, hence thinking to themselves, “Wow…what a great God.” Music, in and of itself, won’t change anyone. Christ, on the other hand, sets people free.

All of that said, my friend, a friend of mine sent me the following quote from a resource of his regarding the rich history of hymns: “Did you know, by the way, that the hymns of the church throughout history were intended primarily for that purpose — to teach and reinforce sound doctrine? … These songs weren’t just to dance to. They were to learn from.”

Singing has been a spiritual discipline used to know God and His Word on a deeper, more mature level since ancient times. In Deuteronomy, God instructed Moses, “Now write down this song and teach it to the Israelites and have them sing it, so that it may be a witness for Me…” (31:19) Jesus (God with skin on) closed the Last Supper by (you guessed it) singing a hymn. (Mark 14:26)

I definitely believe it’s possible to dance a little while, at the same time, having your heart & mind engaged with sound doctrine & theology. But, nowadays it takes a lot of sifting through the “chaff” of what has become a behemoth of Christian Worship Music to find those songs that best make this possible.

Just my opinion, nw

“Follow Me,” Said the Blind Man To His Blind Friends

Atheist, Richard Dawkins, Has Walked Off a Philosophical Cliff (and the masses just keep blindly following).

Like the British atheist-turned-deist, philosophical giant, Antony Flew, I try and abide by the Socrates, described in Plato’s “Republic”: one who “goes where the argument/evidence leads.” Nowhere is this mindset more vital than in regard to all that is God.

The gospel writer, Luke, actually described this type of learning model. In Acts 17:11, writing about the Bereans, he writes that they “examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” The Bereans were intellectuals who refused to believe something just because somebody (even Paul) said it was true. They refused to allow someone to impose unfounded, weakly supported convictions on them. They investigated the evidence and followed it to its logical end. As a result, Luke continued, “many of them believed.”

All of that said, the British biologist, Richard Dawkins, garnered worldwide attention in 2006 with his book, “The God Delusion.” Does he write from an authoritative position? On the subject of biology – yes. On the subjects of theology and philosophy (which would include epistemology, ontology & metaphysics) – no.

About Dawkins’ book, literary theorist, Terry Eagleton, writes, “Imagine someone holding forth on biology whose only knowledge of the subject is the Book of British Birds, and you have a rough idea of what it feels like to read Richard Dawkins on theology.”

Yet…..people who are too lazy to honestly investigate what is true rather than what is trending on the web, continue to swallow Dawkins’ arguments whole. The masses continue to be content with the “low hanging fruit” rather than employ the “tree-climbing” hard work of scholarly, balanced research.

However, perhaps Dawkins’ latest statements will finally force an otherwise dull-minded public to stop and ask, “What did he say??” Recent tweets by Dawkins prompted The National’s Sholto Byrnes to write, “Richard Dawkins has gone so far, he’s lost even his atheist friends.” (To see what all the disgust is about, see link at bottom.)

As a final thought: When visiting with someone about God (“does He, or does He not, exist”, “how can a good God allow evil?”, etc.), consider this quote by 20th century British historian & philosopher, Frederick Copleston: “I do not think that it can be justifiably demanded of the human mind that it should be able to pin down God like a butterfly in a showcase.” (cf. Isaiah 55:8-9)

Not only do I agree with Copleston’s statement, but I personally wouldn’t want a God I can fully explain i.e. “pin down.” If I can explain God, He’s no more complex than I am. But, God, the Bible tells us, is transcendent – far beyond the mere human capacity of being “proven in a laboratory.” Yet – the life/death/resurrection of Christ notwithstanding – He’s lovingly and graciously left you and me a mountain of evidence for His existence. And. like Plato….like Flew….like the Bereans – I have chosen to “go where the evidence leads.” My hope is that you will, as well.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick


The Unforced Rhythms of Grace

I love this rendering of Matthew 11:28-30 from the Message Bible. I’ve taken this “prescription” for my various “maladies”many times over the years…..

[Jesus asked them], “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to Me. Get away with Me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with Me and work with Me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with Me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Let Jesus love and hold you today. nw