In a previous blog post I listed Dr. T. David Gordon’s musical preferences for worship. He listed these in an article title “Coral Ridge Reply.” Below I have quoted the final paragraph in that article. Dr. Gordon lists three harmful effects that come from the assertion that worship music preferences are trivial. Bold is mine.
I am very disappointed, however, to hear that Coral Ridge regards music, and the various preferences associated with it, as “trivial.” To regard it as such will inevitably have three effects, each harmful: First, it will continue to marginalize those of us who regard music (and the sociology of music) as an extremely significant humane consideration. We have apparently wasted our time attempting to develop informed preferences, since all such preferences are, apparently, “trivial.” Second, this will continue to embolden those who have not studied music, music history, aesthetic theory, theology, etc., because their uninformed preference is, apparently, to be regarded as neither more nor less “trivial” than the preference of those of us who are informed. Third, this determination will continue to foster some degree of division because Pastor Tchividjian assumes, as a given, one answer to the very question that needs to be resolved, to wit: Is the matter of how we sing praise to God in corporate worship a serious matter, worthy of the attention of our best theologians (Luther and Calvin wrote about the matter, and Luther and Charles Wesley wrote about hymnody and hymns themselves), or is it merely a “trivial” matter, about which we should not really have any firm opinions? Pastor Tchividjian’s post begs the very question that needs an answer.
I want to make one point about Dr. Gordon’s list. The church needs men, pastors and teachers, who are trained in theology, Bible, pastoral care, church history, and music. Too much of modern church music is rooted in the romantic and sentimental idea that love for God, the ability to play an instrument and/0r sing make one fit to produce church music. Like most evangelicals, church musicians are weak on theology, church history, and Bible. Thus much modern church music is empty. It is telling that the best worship music today is either putting the Psalms to new tunes or taking old hymns and putting them to new tunes. The original stuff is not that great. The worship of God demands our best theologians, professors, and pastors to carefully think through worship music and build on our fathers in the faith so that moving forward we can have music that ministers to God’s people, present and future, resists the current cultural trends, and is pleasing to the Lord. Without this our generation will contribute very little to the church’s musical heritage.