Perhaps it was the way I was raised. I can remember sitting in the back row of our church by my mother, holding a hymnal for her and I to share, and singing the old hymn, “Victory in Jesus.” I can remember my father singing in his morning devotional time, privately to the Lord, “I’ll say Yes, Lord, Yes.” In our home, we had Christian music playing constantly! Sandi Patty, Steve Green, Maranatha Music, the Gaithers, and the Cathedrals all filled our home with worship. I can still remember, as a young man, meeting The Florida Boys when they came and performed a live concert at our church.
I. My Journey
Though the Lord had set me on a great path, I had a time of wandering in confusion. Throughout my teenage, college, and early ministry years, I had heard so many sermons, lectures, and opinions about Christian music, that I had become very confused on the subject. I had heard that God hates a certain sounding music, and that any beat within a song would offend the ears of God and His presence would be taken away. I remember having a conversation with one man who told me that it was “worldly” for a soloist to hold a microphone while singing in church, because that is what the “rock-&-roll crowd” does. I believe all of these Christians were well meaning and desired to honor Christ; however, their encouragement only encouraged me to lean away from music as a whole.
I know that some might say, “This is ridiculous! How could you be influenced in such a way? Have you no beliefs of your own?” And, perhaps your criticism is valid. However, one must understand that my entire heart was to serve Jesus and please my Savior. If any kind of music offended my God, then I would not have it. If Praise and Worship was too “worldly,” then I would reject it. If Southern Gospel was too “country,” then I would avoid it. If Christian Contemporary was too “rocky,” I would get rid of it. I wanted God’s blessing in my life so badly, that I would have given up anything for Jesus. I would have even given up something that was good for me, and I did.
II. My Growth
When I was 17, I can remember my friend, Jose Miano, being questioned by a slightly older Christian man about his choice in Christian music. The CD he listened to was produced by a very conservative Christian college producing servants for the kingdom of God. “It’s a shame,” the 21-year-old expert said, “that each of those songs are taken right out of the Promise Keepers convention,” which I supposed was meant to be insulting. “They keep sliding up and down the scale in a worldly way too,” he concluded. I was convicted. Perhaps he was right. Was the Lord displeased with me? I’ll never forget Jose’s response. “I’m listening to Christian music and celebrating Jesus. I’ve known you for 2 months now; you are supposed to be a Christian musician, and all you ever listen to is Broadway, opera, and classical music. Never once have I heard you listen to Christian music.” I was shocked. I thought about it. Jose was right. Perhaps the Lord wasn’t displeased with my worship, just because someone else was.
I was still confused. I eventually got to the point where I didn’t listen to music at all. Really! Sermons…yes, podcasts…yes, talk radio…too much, but never any music. Secular or Christian, I had convinced myself that I was just not a musical person. So, what was it that helped me to grow in this area? THE BIBLE! I was preaching every Sunday night through the Scriptures, verse by verse. We came to Galatians, and that was it for me. Now, please don’t roll your eyes or raise your nose at the book of Galatians, as many of the Judaizers of the New Testament would have done. Please don’t accuse me of misinterpreting this beautiful epistle that broke my heart and set me free. Through a deep and long study into this book, I saw the truth about liberty in Christ. I understood the legalist I had become and chose to follow Jesus, rather than the religion I had created for myself. I understood that I could do nothing to earn God’s love, I could do nothing to make Him like me more than He already does, I could do nothing to gain his favor because I am already loved, liked and highly favored through my relationship with Christ. This allowed me to move past my feeble attempts at religion and focus solely on my relationship with Christ. I was able to move past my focus upon the law and refocus upon my love for Jesus. II Corinthians 5:14
(You can see my journey, as I preached through Galatians, here)
III. My Change
It wasn’t very long after this study, that Jason Coombes, our Worship Leader, suggested we have a Southern Gospel group in for a music night (we would never have called it a concert). I was nervous, because I didn’t want to displease the Lord, but I also knew that something was lacking in our church regarding music. We thought this might help. That night I sat right on the front row. They were introduced, and the music began. The first song started, and I immediately recognized the syncopated sound track with the bass drum and cymbals, then the guitars began to play. And, though it was everything I remembered from my childhood, my skin began to crawl and my stomach began to turn. I could have interpreted that as the Holy Spirit’s displeasure…, but then I heard His voice. It was the same voice that speaks to me every morning, the same voice that guides me in my study as I prepare the next sermon, the same voice that called me to salvation at age five and to service at age 15. I know that voice! I follow that voice! He said, “Calm down… this is of me… look at the people.” I did. They were worshipping the Lord. They were worshipping the Lord with instruments other than a piano. “Relax, calm down and worship me.” I did. I haven’t looked back.
I started studying music in the Bible and came to the shocking realization that, though I had only ever heard sermons about the dangers of music, the Bible only speaks positively about music. I found that God loves music (Job. 38:4-7, Zeph. 3:17, II Chron. 5:11-13, Ps. 71:23), God is worshipped through many kinds of instruments and styles (Ps. 33:1-3, Eph. 5:18-19) and that God desired to hear me sing once again. I now love all types of Christian music! I love the hymns for the incredible depth of Bible doctrine they impart. I love Southern Gospel for the overwhelming energy it brings to my worship. I love Christian Contemporary for the sound, scripture, and the way it connects me to God. Sure there are styles I prefer and there are styles you prefer, but I have committed to Christ that I will never again be pressured by another person’s preference (Col. 2:22).
Psalm 95:1 O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation.
For my recent sermon on this subject click here:
What are your thoughts? Did I get it Wrong? Have you had a similar experience?
Cindi PorterFebruary 26, 2013 at 11:51 am
Praise God for ALL kinds of Christian music.
What a wonderful ministry it is. When I find it hard to concentrate to pray….or read Gods word. I can always worship and praise Him, in a song !!
It takes me away……PTL for good southern gospel music :):)
Bring on a good old fashioned singspiration !!
Joshua TeisFebruary 26, 2013 at 3:09 pm
Jonathan BarberOctober 8, 2013 at 1:06 pm
Here is a link to an excellent article that addresses the morality of music. This really gets to the heart of the issue. Make sure to read both part 1 and 2. Brother Teis, I would love to hear your thoughts after reading it.
Alma QuintinoFebruary 26, 2013 at 12:35 pm
I am fairly new to Christianity. Then I started listening to Christian music in my radio station in my car, I really liked the songs. But then I would pay attention to the words and the more I listened the more I fell in love with Jesus. Some of them even seemed to be written about me and what difficult time I was going through. Now I wake up to Christian music, go through my day with it. It is just AWESOME! I like to reffer to them as love songs to Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Joshua TeisFebruary 26, 2013 at 3:10 pm
I feel the same way Alma! Thank you for sharing!
Alan LaddFebruary 26, 2013 at 1:37 pm
Not every one is the same, just call me old. I love the old time music from the heart. The Old Rugged Cross, Ill Flyaway Oglory, and As I am. These song are dear to me. I have truble when I walk into a church that has rock and roll, twist and shout. May be it is just me. But not every beat is unto the Lord. For there is the beat of rebellion in there hearts and attitude against God, but it is what is in the heart that counts. But there is a limit to every thing. We do not sing to please others or are self, but to praise and glorify God.
Joshua TeisFebruary 26, 2013 at 3:32 pm
Alan, your love for the hymns are not because you “are old” but because they are richly packed with doctrine and Bible content. I too love the “old” hymns of the faith. The Old Rugged Cross and How Great Thou Art are 2 of my absolute favorites. I think we have this love not only because they are doctrinally pure and rich with Scripture but also because they were prevalent in the culture of our childhood. We grew up listing to the hymns, singing the hymns and worshiping God through the hymns. In the 1960’s there came a cultural shift in the U.S. that promoted rebellion, free-love, and drug use. The music of choice for this generation was “Rock & Roll.” In many minds that remember that time we associate things found in the culture as representing the heart of that culture – REBELLION. I have heard denim called the “fabric a rebellion” because the hippies of the 60’s wore denim. I have heard facial hair on men ridiculed because “it looks rebellious” to those who remember the hippies of that area. This is also why a great deal of good Christians still oppose any Christian music with any rhythm or beat because it reminds us of the music of a rebellious generation.
I actually think you can have a rhythm and beat in a song that not only engages our contemporary culture but also uplifts the name of Jesus. I also agree that we do not sing to please others or ourself, but to praise and glorify God. I believe deeply, as you do, that church is not a place to entertain christians but to worship the Savior. I just propose that this can be done in a variety of musical styles. What you wrote is very well stated and has great thought behind the words. thank you for sharing.
P.S – Tell Jung we love her and looking forward to seeing you both on sunday. BTW – I hope you guys will come to the coastal couples retreat next year. It would be much better if you all were there. Love you Guys!
Joshua TownFebruary 26, 2013 at 3:49 pm
Just some clarifying questions:
It seems from your post that you believe “styles” of music do not matter, all that matters are the words being sung, is this right?
If yes, do you draw the line anywhere in your beliefs? Is “Christian Rap” or “Christian Metal” acceptable to the Lord?
Joshua TeisFebruary 26, 2013 at 5:13 pm
Joshua – That is a Great Question. Perhaps the best I’ve seen. What is the natural conclusion and unintended consequences of making such a statement? I will be addressing this and other questions comments in a soon-to-come blog post. I promise!
Lance SchmidtFebruary 26, 2013 at 3:52 pm
Fantastic. I love the balanced approach you gave to the different types of music! Alot of people need to read this. Thanks for the post!
Joshua TeisFebruary 26, 2013 at 5:14 pm
Thanks Lance! – Balance is the key in this debate. I appreciate your encouragement!
Steven MillerFebruary 26, 2013 at 3:53 pm
I think this is such a great post. I too had a very similar journey with music. I am now at the place where I love so many types of Christian music. I just love listening to music that brings glory to God.
Joshua TeisFebruary 26, 2013 at 5:15 pm
Thanks Steve – You have helped improve the music ministry here at Southern Hills tremendously. God bless you as you lead others to worship our Savior!
Taylor HershbergerFebruary 26, 2013 at 3:56 pm
Thank you for your insights. There is a difference between a conviction and a preference. You have demonstrated clearly how a new wave of church leaders are thinking. While the “old paths” are important doctrinally, methods will not, and in many cases should not, always concur with tradition. While the same Gospel was preached at Pentecost and at Mars Hill, the method was drastically different. Paul even used the false contemporary theology of the Greeks to his advantage. I appreciated your perspective!
Joshua TeisFebruary 26, 2013 at 5:23 pm
The Old Paths you refer to must never change. These old paths are doctrinal and not methodological. The Message will not change but our Methods have and will. However, we that are young in the ministry must never criticize someone who has gone before us who choses not to update and change their methods.
One of the biggest concerns I have as a young pastor (only 8 years in the pulpit) is that many young ministers feel the necessity to ridicule those who have discipled, trained and invested into their lives and ministries. We owe a debt of gratitude to those who have brought us thus far in our Christian faith. Though many of these heroes will not come to the same conclusions about music and method as we have, we ought never criticize those who hold to more traditional methods of ministry. For if it were not for these giants we would not even know our dear Lord and Savior.
Tommy ThompsonJuly 2, 2013 at 6:55 pm
Josh: Just ran across your article. I appreciate, not only the content, but also the spirit of it. As you stated, balance is key and we must never elevate preference to doctrine. I also appreciate the way you honor our heritage and recognize the value of it. God bless you, my Friend!
Nate StonestreetFebruary 26, 2013 at 4:20 pm
Excellent post Pastor Josh. Thank You for being balanced in your life and ministry. Very insightful. Definately a great read!
Joshua TeisFebruary 26, 2013 at 5:25 pm
Thanks Nate – Means a lot – Pray that I can remain balanced and loving.
Faith GelsthorpeFebruary 26, 2013 at 5:14 pm
This was a great post!
Very informative, easy to understand & biblical.
Thanks for posting!
Joshua TeisFebruary 26, 2013 at 5:25 pm
Thanks sis! Love you and your wonderful little family. Tell Jon I want to play some Catan soon!
Lou JenkinsFebruary 26, 2013 at 5:18 pm
Great thoughts! I have gone through an extremely similar journey. I am so thankful for many styles of God honoring music! This is one of those things that is often so misunderstood and misrepresented by many christians. I am thankful that The Lord is using you to encourage others and bring some needed perspective to the area of christian music!
Joshua TeisFebruary 26, 2013 at 5:28 pm
Thank you Lou. I find that many men and women are growing in this area as well. We must remember to do what our teachers and mentors have taught us. Go to the Book. The Bible holds the answers. What the Bible affirms as true, so ought we. Where the Bible is silent, so ought we be.
We have been taught from the earliest days to ask, “What does the Bible Say?”
Dawn FroehlichFebruary 26, 2013 at 5:59 pm
I have had a similar journey through music in my Christian experience and love all kinds of music (except rap). But as I’ve grown, I have become more adept at examining closely all of the music I listen to and how I’m influenced by it. Pastor Teis, your sermon series in Galatians was an obvious turning point for me to be freed from the opinions of others and judging what I do by their standards, and examining my own conduct with the power of the Holy Spirit. Thanks for the post!
Joshua TeisFebruary 27, 2013 at 8:26 am
You’re welcome Dawn! I do believe the Christian Life is a journey. I too am growing closer everyday as I walk in the Spirit.
DanFebruary 26, 2013 at 8:13 pm
True worship is from the heart, and if your heart is right with God while you worship through music and song, then why should anyone other than the Lord judge that. I was raised in churches drenched in legalism. In my opinion its the legalistic attitudes that creep in and taint the heart of people from seeing what God sees. We all can worship in different ways. Just go to a third world country. No hymns there. They have their own styles and rhythms, which many in the US would see as “worldly”, but it is not. It is the way they use their culture and music to worship. I don’t know you, but I would say you are doing what very few Pastors do now days on this issue. You are basing your beliefs on the Bible and not on preference or how you were raised. Good for you. God will bless your ministry for seeking to do it His way instead of the easier way.
Joshua TeisFebruary 27, 2013 at 8:32 am
Thanks for the vote of confidence Dan. Personally, I don’t view every church that chooses to have traditional hymns as legalistic. I believe that different people worship God in different ways. Just as it is not right for them to condemn our church for allowing a style they do not prefer it would also be wrong for me to condemn them for having a style that may fit the culture of their church. In some churches the culture of their church dictates to them they ought have nothing but traditional hymns. If they were to change to a more contemporary style it would so distract the Christians there that they would find it hard to actually worship. What do you think?
Julie ElzeftawyFebruary 26, 2013 at 10:26 pm
Pastor Josh. I think you know a little of my story I grew up in a church where there was not even a piano because it was a worldly thing so I learned all the wonderful old hymns pretty much by heart but it wasn’t until lately that I realized what they really meant. When my heart is so heavy and overwhelmed with hurt and pain these precious songs offer me a way to speak to God and remember his goodness and clear my thoughts. To refocus , to choose to break down the strongholds of depression and redirect my thoughts to the right place music is my therapy and I praise God for the release it brings. Thank you for the focus on it and the balance
Joshua TeisFebruary 27, 2013 at 8:34 am
Yes! Music has that power to “break down the strongholds of depression and redirect my thought to the right place.” The right place is Jesus. I agree and love your statement. Heather and I sure do love you and Atef!
Julie LauberFebruary 26, 2013 at 10:56 pm
It seems to me that a lot of what I hear on the radio, that they call “praise music” is just plain ugly. It repeats over and over and tries to be emotionally manipulative, instead of natural. On the other hand, I see a lot of people who seem to get a lot out of it, so more power to them (the artists). I seem to separate in my mind music for Sunday worship and music for private worship, the former being the more “excellent”. I wonder why I do this. I do, however, know that the pastors make decisions after much prayer and from the leading of the Lord, so my opinion is only that, and trust what you do.
Joshua TeisFebruary 27, 2013 at 8:41 am
Julie, I agree with you that some of what is on the Christian Radio station is not my personal preference. It can appear that some of this music is intentionally trying to manipulate into emotion. However, though a sad story, well placed illustration or even the tone of my voice, the same can be said of your preacher every sunday. But those who know my heart also know that I am not trying to manipulate people’s emotions. I am just being me. Preaching the Word of God the best I know how. Not everything in the Christian Music world do I like, however, I have decided to be less critical of certain styles that I don’t prefer and just listen to something that does lift my heart to God and allows me to focus on the truths of Scripture.
Joshua TeisFebruary 27, 2013 at 8:42 am
By the Way – Great thought. We love you and Tedd very much. Also, tell him to go put a shirt on. 🙂
Chris ArmerFebruary 27, 2013 at 8:12 am
Thanks for posting.
Joshua TeisFebruary 27, 2013 at 8:42 am
You’re welcome Chris.
Mary PikeFebruary 27, 2013 at 12:33 pm
Interesting article and enjoyed all the responses. As a long time church musician, I have observed people worshiping and people just singing and/or groving to the music.
The difference is in the heart.
I have also observed the “music wars” in churches. Some people assumed because I played organ and piano, my music preference is hymns, anthems, classical etc. and tried to get me to join their “camp” of trying to get rid of the contemporay music in the services. There have also been young people who made an asumption that I did not like their music, therefore I was viewed as a possible member of the cranky, out of it group.
My response – love the laugh with them, take interest in them and let them know that I enjoy their music. ( which is really “our music” if we are truly worshiping the Lord.) For the older group – I would speak kindly of contemporary music and encourage them to “lighten up”. Guess who wins the competition. We all do.
This is not the first time music has changed in the churches, and this probably not be the last time -( if the Lord does not return soon). Just imagine the kind of praise we will experience in heaven! I think we will hear it all. Music is a precious gift from God given to us to touch our emotions, teach us God’s word and a means to give us an awesome way to express our love and praise for the Lord in a group experience. We might consider it “rehearsal” for the best worship we will be priviledged to participate in when we are with Jesus,
Joshua TeisFebruary 27, 2013 at 12:50 pm
WOW – Mary that was beautifully written. You are such a blessing to our church as you play the keyboard and serve faithfully. I am praying for Jim. Hope he is having a good week.
Thomas DelpFebruary 27, 2013 at 1:07 pm
I can see where Joshua Town is coming from and his questions. I look forward to your response in a future blog.
I would add and ask, if all Christian music is ok, would you also say that music is amoral?
AnonymousMarch 2, 2013 at 3:09 pm
Good question thomas. I am not an expert in music by any stretch of the imagination. Therefore, I won’t pretend to be. I don’t know anything about the 1st and 3rd beat. I know little about melody, rhythm, and harmony. I have traveled a great deal and know that many things are cultural. Food, clothing and music might fall into that category. Most importantly, I have a relationship with the Holy Spirit that allows me to develop convictions and personal preferences that work for me. I do believe there is much music in the world that dishonors God. Music that is blasphemous, irreverent, violent, sensual and unholy ought not be in the Christian’s life. So to answer your question, yes – there is music that is immoral. But if you are looking for someone to draw the line for you – you need to look to the Holy Spirit.
AnonymousMarch 2, 2013 at 3:11 pm
I’m writing from my iPhone. The above comment was mine but did not register as such. -josh Teis
Scott PostmaFebruary 27, 2013 at 7:16 pm
Well written and biblically supported. As always, you’re spirit is a breath of fresh air. Blessing, brother.
AnonymousMarch 2, 2013 at 3:12 pm
Thanks Scott! It’s nice to have a friend like you past prong in Las Vegas with me! Praying for the new church plant.
Eric HayesFebruary 28, 2013 at 1:28 pm
This is awesome. I hope this starts a lot of honest and intelligent conversations in our movement. We need to reject the religion we create in our hearts, as you excellently put it.
Joshua TeisMarch 2, 2013 at 3:14 pm
Thanks for the feedback Eric! Glad you are enjoying the conversation!
Aaron IrlbacherMarch 1, 2013 at 8:07 pm
I love the tone and honesty of this post. Thanks
Joshua TeisMarch 2, 2013 at 3:17 pm
It’s interesting that you mention tone. I praise The Lord for that. Some of my greatest heroes and mentors in the ministry (starting with my father) are men that have taught me to discuss and disagree with the right spirit and tone. I am thankful that you picked up on this my friend
Tammie PacholkeMarch 5, 2013 at 7:01 am
You do not know me. I live in Michigan. I have heard your father and brother both preach at our church. (Most excellent!) In my humble opinion, you have hit the nail on the head. Like you, I grew up listening to hymns, Cathedrals, Calvary Men, etc… I was taught that the words of a song made it good or bad. If it was against God’s word, it didn’t pass.
In the mid-70’s our churches began to see a drift towards “works” vs. “liberty.” Southern Pastors were beginning to bring the “pants issue” north. Then I noticed the music “standards” beginning to change. Luckily I had a Pastor who preached on the “Tyranny of the Shoulds.” He said we need to go to God about convictions, not man. Is it God convicting you, or is it man saying you should or should not do something?
In the early 90’s we moved and joined a church, of which we are still members today. My family was trying to serve God the best we could and unfortunately got caught up in the music thing. For years we only listened to “approved” music. My Spirit battled with this subject often! Such confusion! About the time I would decide it was not God’s conviction, then a preacher would preach on music and I would be confused again. I wanted to support our church and Pastor. Then our daughter went away to a bible college and was bringing home more of a contemporary styled selection. And it was beautiful. It was actually the Holy Spirit and Galations that caused me to change. God’s precious word! It took lots of study, lots of prayer, and listening to God vs. man. A few years here!
About 4 years ago my husband encouraged me to listened to more contemporary music. It took me two weeks to even tolerate it. I listened to the words of the songs very critically to see if they passed. Wow! The songs were biblically based. Then they began speaking to my heart, lifting my spirit, and frankly, convicting me in many ways.
I think each person needs to listen to God’s still small voice. It needs to be conviction from Him. If I know that friends or parents do not allow certain music in their home…. I don’t play it when they visit. Not because I feel guilty. I do not hide anything in my life. But out of respect for them. I, personally, have true joy and peace with my decision. I am not on a crusade on this subject. I do think it needs to be addressed as I think it is a stumbling block… especially to our youth.
A friend recently asked me how I could still go to the church I do. Very simply…. First, God has not lead us away. They are my family. Second, I have chosen to agree to disagree… respectfully. Third, maybe there will be those that see I am still a God fearing Christian growing in our Lord while listening to a variety of Christian music. In fact, growing more than I have in years! To God be the glory!
Joshua TeisMarch 5, 2013 at 4:35 pm
Your journey not only reflect my own but also many others. I especially loved that you are attempting to have grace toward those who have not come (at least not yet) to the same conclusions as you have. You mention that you are not “on a crusade” which I respect. To me the issue is not really about Christian Music but about teaching folks to walk int he Spirit and read the Word in order to come to personal convictions. In areas the Bible is not specific we have too many times determined our standards and convictions based upon the standards and convictions of others. This is not healthy!
Mark L. Ward, Jr.March 6, 2013 at 1:07 pm
Pastor Teis, please feel free not to approve this comment—my purpose is not to “flame” you on your blog. You seem like a gracious man, and I hope I offer the following by God’s grace in the same Christ-like spirit. I ran across your post because I saw that you were speaking at a camp in Hawaii where a few acquaintances of mine are working.
May I summarize your post?
1. You found the mass of Christian positions and arguments about music confusing.
2. A young friend of yours believed CCM to be worldly but hypocritically failed to benefit from any Christian music at all in his spiritual life.
3. You were uncomfortable with the drums and (bass?) guitar of a Southern Gospel group you invited to your church, but the Holy Spirit told you to relax and enjoy it—in part, at least, because people around you were clearly doing so.
4. You learned from Galatians not to be legalistic, understood as someone who presses his merely personal preferences on other Christians.
5. The Bible never says anything negative about music but instead praises differing instruments and musical styles.
Is that an accurate representation of your arguments?
I’m afraid I cannot commend your thinking as the other commenters have done. Let me offer a brief comment or question on each of the points above. (I’m going to handle a few out of order for thought-flow reasons…)
1. I agree that confusion exists in the “worship wars”; I think that gray areas exist. I think that any line you draw will separate two kinds of music that are similar, and that line will therefore look ridiculous to some onlookers. But how many serious issues are there about which people don’t argue heatedly? And if you let the mere existence of heated argument on a topic lead you to throw up your hands in despair, why not take the more conservative route? Why not refuse to do anything that might make your brother stumble? It’s not obvious to me that the profusion of talk about worship music is a good reason to cut the Gordian knot by simply taking a position of complete liberty. Music, even apart from lyrics, means something, or people wouldn’t argue about it so much. Music communicates. The question is whether a given style communicates something appropriate for corporate worship.
2. I’ve had the same experience, and yet our shared experiences simply do not prove that the young man’s charges against CCM were wrong. Good positions can have sinful exponents—in fact, all of them do, because every one of us preachers is a sinner! I’m glad the doctrine of justification by faith doesn’t stand or fall on my shoulders.
3. I suppose I can’t stop you from saying this, but I would like to point out that this is the ultimate unanswerable argument: “God told me to do it.” You are claiming God’s authority to take a disputed position, but are you truly advancing convincing biblical reasons to do so?
4. This is the real issue: does the Bible allow the musical styles used in worship to be determined by our personal preferences, or are there biblical principles that guide us toward a right decision? And is it legalism to apply biblical principles?
5. Following on from the last point, are you truly prepared to demand that the Bible speak explicitly to every major issue you face? I’m nearly certain you wouldn’t say the same thing, for example, about Bible versions. Your church’s doctrinal statement says that “for textual reasons” you prefer the KJV. And yet the Bible never says anything (negatively) about bad biblical manuscript copies. Neither does it ever say (positively) which line or family of manuscripts we should use. Yet you are willing to place this application of (what you would consider to be) biblical principles in your official doctrinal statement.
Doesn’t Galatians itself have anything to say about music, even if it doesn’t name it explicitly? For example, “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you … that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” Is it an accident that some styles of music are much more closely associated with these works of the flesh than others? What does this suggest about their appropriateness for corporate and even personal worship?
The Bible offers general prohibitions which must be taken as seriously as the explicit prohibitions, and it is to these I would point for my defense of a conservative position on music. I suggest you read a helpful article that comes ultimately from my own pastor. I put it up online today for your benefit and mine.
It’s very hard to express and receive Christian love in blog comments. So again, feel free not to let mine through. But please consider, for reasons of Christian love toward your own people, spending more time on this issue before you open up complete liberty. Now that you have done so, it will be very difficult to draw future lines.
Joshua TeisMarch 6, 2013 at 2:46 pm
Oh Mark, I think you picked the wrong guy.
I’m really not a great debater, blogger or wordsmith (let alone a great speller – i.e. bass) 🙂
I’m just a Pastor of a little church out in Vegas.
First, of course I will approve and post your comment. I think it was well written and very respectful. I would like every reader to see your position in your own words and determine if what you are saying is Biblical and worthy of following. I think it’s incredibly important for those who have your position to be heard.
Second, I will have a follow up post to the first that will be coming out next week. I’m not trying to be coy, I’m just trying to get back to preparing my sermons. I promise, a follow post is coming!
Until then I’d love your thoughts on the following video we just produced:
I think you’ll see we actually have a lot in common.
Looking forward to communicating with you again soon.
AnonymousMarch 6, 2013 at 1:20 pm
Concerning the post by MLWJ… Romans 12:22 “HAST THOU FAITH? Have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth.” Who can compete with the Holy Spirit of God in this area? To say that anything is wrong in PERSONAL WORSHIP is to deny the priesthood of the believer. No preacher on earth can dictate what is acceptable in my personal worship to God. It simply can not be done. Again, Romans 14: 4, “Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant?”
Hoping and Living for the furtherance of the Gospel!
AnonymousMarch 6, 2013 at 2:34 pm
The things you suggested can not be considered TRUE worship of the Lord Jesus Christ. Anything in violation of God’s Word is Idolatry.
I did not mean to imply that you overstepped your bounds.
I am glad to accept the responsibility of Romans 14. I read it simply as it is stated and I believe it applies to these issues in principle, as well.
GOD KNOWS! 🙂
AnonymousMarch 6, 2013 at 2:44 pm
Oh, I’m not worried about criticism. Until we know where God wants us in the future, we do not want to undermine the leadership of our church right now. BTW, the leadership knows exactly what we believe. We love them. We are presently waiting on the Lord.
AnonymousMarch 7, 2013 at 10:30 am
Does this include Christian Speed Metal? or Christian Rap?
I Love A Variety of Christian Music – Part 2 | Josh TeisMarch 14, 2013 at 9:07 am
[…] Here is a link to the previous Music Post: http://www.joshuateis.com/i-love-a-variety-of-christian-music/ […]
Adam WoodMarch 15, 2013 at 11:41 pm
Please make your above points to someone who had grown up listening to the refuse put out by the world, who was saved from that by the good grace of God. Tell it to those who have long been tempted to go back to that old stuff by means of the Christian imitation of it. Both my wife and I have been on both sides of that issue. It is a fact: some Christian music is nothing more than a hook needed to draw a person back into purely secular, and God-dishonoring, music. It happens all the time. How unwise would it be deny the very real temptations believers in Christ face as a result of some of this music you enjoy?
Col. 1:10; 3:20; 1 Thess. 2:4; 1 John 3:22. These verses plainly refute the oft repeated, but nevertheless false, notion “I understood that I could do nothing more to please God, because Christ had already pleased Him on my behalf.” The idea deduced from fact that Christ pleased the Father in all points, that a Christian cannot do anything to please God is not only plainly wrong on its face; it is also not scriptural. Besides, you don’t believe this. Because of our love for Christ, we try to do those things that PLEASE Him. If I can do nothing to please Him, then how does our obedience show our love? Come on. This is just silly, and certainly not true in our relationships with our children. Besides, this has nothing to do with legalism (the idea that one earns salvation by the works of a legal system) as you claim. The argument is a thinly veiled attempt at denying that any music displeases God. This can be rationally or scripturally applied to almost nothing else in life.
I am well aware that my comments will be accused of being hateful, unloving and legalistic, even though my attitude is nothing of the sort. This is a slippery slope. And you are not at the bottom of the slope yet. I mourn to see the end of such ideas.
Adam WoodMarch 16, 2013 at 1:32 am
One edit. I said, “The argument is a thinly veiled attempt at denying that any music displeases God.” I do not want to imply sinister or dishonest motives by you, Bro. Teis. I cannot know your motives. I apologize for that. My point was that whereas it is true that our merits cannot earn our salvation, now that we are His children by His grace, there is much we can do to please Him! This should be our primary goal (Rev. 4:11) in every area, including music. So, it leaves only to determine whether some music can displease God. Though not stated in this way, your argument smacks of “Since the Father is pleased with Christ in my place, I don’t need to worry about God being pleased with me in my music choices.” I think the central question, then, that must be answered is, “Is there any music that displeases God?” If so, how do I know?
Joshua TeisMarch 16, 2013 at 9:34 am
Thank you for the comments Adam! I will genuinely consider these things that you have said, search the scriptures and pray about them. You are right, as a child of God I hope to please my Father. Thank you!
Kristi PalmerMarch 22, 2013 at 7:54 am
Thanks so much for writing this article! I went through all kinds of confusion growing up as well and came to the same conclusion. Your words are very validating. I’m glad I am now able to focus on the way the music allows me to praise and worship the Lord rather than the rules I must follow.
BrendaMarch 22, 2013 at 8:21 am
The comments above about a Christian being lured back into secular music by Christian music just doesn’t make sense to me. I have also grown up listening to secular rock… Music that is vulgar with words that only feed the flesh. That is why I am so confused by this statement. Comparing secular, flesh-feeding music with Christian, God-honoring music is comparing apples to oranges, not apples to apples. I think we Christians will never agree on these things….. and that’s o.k. 🙂 Thank God! That’s OK! Praising God all day long!!
Raquel WallaceApril 13, 2013 at 7:47 pm
Christian music of all kinds blasts in my home–and my car–everyday. We love it!
Kayla GarciaMay 2, 2013 at 9:42 am
So many great thoughts. Thank you. In a recent discussion about this same issue my husband mentioned that he thinks” God is a lot more gracious than people give him credit for”.
I think He is just as displeased with a self-consumed CCM musician as he is with a self-righteous soloist singing Amazing Grace. On the other hand I think he’s just as pleased with either of those people truely worshiping Him in song and spirit.
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Mike BaggechFebruary 28, 2015 at 11:13 pm
Just a really quick question for ya Pastor, what do you think of the noise of war mentioned in Joshua’s time? Was that music?
CarrieMarch 1, 2015 at 10:00 am
I, personally, have experienced growth in my walk with Christ partially through Christian Contemporary Music. Not because I was on an emotional high, but because those songs would keep my eyes on Jesus. Throughout the day, He’d bring a song to mind that would help me to focus on Him. When I play my guitar, He’d bring a song to mind that He wanted to hear-not only from my lips but from my heart.
But Mr. Teis, my dear father believes that a Christian should be set apart from the world. That our music should be distinctly different. To him, my music sounds like the world’s music. I often wonder if the music I listen to is due to a selfish reasoning of what I like to listen to and worship Him with. I don’t want to create my own way of worshipping Him or my own religion. I want to choose His way of worshipping Him. The question remains however, what exactly is His way? My father says-His ways are not of the world and therefore neither should your music be.
What do you think?
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A Worship Style Primer, Part 2 – The Village SmithyOctober 16, 2018 at 6:40 pm
[…] offering on worship style, in answer to the claim made by Contemporary Independent Baptists like Josh Teis (see this link also) and Robert Bakss that worship style is merely a matter of preference and […]