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Question 28

Q: Churches and radio stations are switching from hymns (with piano, organ, and orchestra) to contemporary Christian music (guitars, drums, electronic instruments, etc.)

My question is, what would our Lord have us to do according to the Bible in regard to Christian music? 

Asked by: Jack, North Carolina

A: Well you know, Jack, I’m smart enough not to give a very specific answer to your question.

The matter of music has been a point of sharp contention among Christians, and I’m not really qualified to adjudicate all of these matters. But I do have some convictions about this.

There are two extremes we should avoid. First of all, we should avoid the notion that the only hymns and the only music that should ever be played on Christian radio is the kind that we like. I think that we have to recognize that taking a stand like that is wrong. There are other people who may enjoy a different kind of music and a different kind of singing, and we have to recognize that we are not the standard by which all music should be judged. Also excellent, God-honoring worship choruses have been written in recent years that we should be singing; much of contemporary music does glorify God. We should not think that God’s tastes in music are exactly the same as ours.

And secondly, I think it’s important to realize that Christians should not always be pushing the envelope. This is a very important point because there’s no doubt that sometimes the music sounds as if the musicians are simply imitating the world. We do not have to bring the music of the world into the church in order to be relevant.

I also believe that the great hymns of the church have what could be called, “gravitas.” That is, they convey deep theological truth in a way that captures our hearts and minds. To not sing them is a travesty, in my judgment. The purpose of music, it seems to me, is to take words with content that might simply affect our minds and have it also touch our emotions. But the content is important, and if the music is loud and distracting, it actually negates the power of the message itself.

I pray that God will give us wisdom to know exactly how to respond to modern music, with charity and an openness to the preferences of others. As we keep talking, connecting, and befriending those who have different tastes in music, we will be more tolerant of those who disagree with us.

Scripture references

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