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Location: Greensboro, NC, United States

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A Few Quick Shots: Music, the Bible, and Other Things I Always Talk About

Hits have been up here on the old blog, so to those of you who are visiting, I bid you a fond welcome. I have no idea why you're visiting, though, as no new comments have been posted in a couple of weeks. Nonetheless, your thoughts are always welcome on anything I put here, so feel free to offer them if you like.

Circumstances have been such that I haven't been able to write anything of substance in a while. Between work and the customary Summer yard upkeep, I've been fairly preoccupied. I hope, however, to get back in to writing before long, so keep checking back. In the meantime, in lieu of anything of substantial length, here are a couple of brief thoughts.

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As a guitarist, and a repentant former contemporary worship leader, one thing I spend a lot of time thinking about is music, both inside and outside of the church. Unfortunately, I find it's something that lots of people think much about, as they tend to be more concerned with the type of music used in worship than what the church they attend believes about most anything else. For most people, their pastor could be a rank heretic on any number of issues, and they would never know, let alone care. Hence, the number of professing Christians who think that preachers like Joel Osteen or T. D. Jakes should be listened to. But so long as the Evangelical church either avoids theology, or consistently apologizes whenever theology accidentally slips into a sermon or church life, this will remain a problem. Unless the church teaches and emphasizes the need to learn theology, most people won't seek it out.

Having said all this, music is something that must be considered, if one is to live life to the glory of God. After all, music is, like all things, a theological matter. One approach to the question of music I've never heard taken, though, has to do with maturity and music. If over my life I am called to mature as a person, which includes maturing as a Christian, one would expect that all areas of my life would be affected somehow by my maturity. That is, in fact, the case, though we don't usually think of it in those terms. We may listen to a certain style of music when we are young children, for instance, that we wouldn't when we are adults. But what happens if, as we grow older, our tastes in music don't change?

Let's say I was meeting a friend for lunch. As I pulled into the parking lot of our restaurant of choice, the friend were to approach my car, and hear what I had playing on the stereo: "The wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round, round and round...". Now I'm a single, thirty-six year old man. I have no children. Wouldn't the friend reasonably find this a bit disturbing?

This used to be more easily recognizable in American society. In years not-so-far-past, it would have been understood that a forty-year old man who was still listening to certain music of his youth, with his earring and his Bon Jovi t-shirt, was experiencing some measure of stunted growth. Yes, when I was sixteen, I thought "Ice Ice Baby" was an intriguing song with many layers of depth. But when I became a man, I put away childish things, and this is, I believe, connected somewhat to the graying of what little bit of hair I have left.

This is not to say that every song that has ever made it to pop radio is somehow of the devil, or that it would a sin for me to listen to any of it at this point in my life. Some top forty hits of days of yore still make onto my stereo. Simon & Garfunkel, Jim Croce, Dwight Yoakam, Buck Owens - and more recent ones like Brad Paisley and Norah Jones - all get the occasional spin. But they get mixed in with Bach and Vivaldi now. And were the temptation to break out New Edition's "Cool It Now" to kick in, I'd become very concerned.

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I have a very basic philosophy when it comes to Scripture: God wrote a really long, complicated book, and He calls me to do my best to learn it and to live it out. And if 2 Timothy 3:16 is true (and it is), then that includes all those verses I can't make sense of yet. True love not only pursues, but also gives the one it loves something to pursue. And because God loves us, He didn't put everything on the low-hanging branches where it's easy to reach. The fact that we think everything in Scripture should be simple to get a hold of finds manifestation in other areas of our lives as well. If we aren't willing to pursue God through His Word, should we be surprised if our other relationships, such as marriage, fall apart as well?

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