Music has a unique quality to appeal to the senses of man. It is a powerful tool that can be utilised to convey and express ideas, concepts and passions. When used appropriately, music can help draw a congregation together in holy and Biblical worship of God. It can also be used to teach good and proper theology. Thus, Martin Luther proclaims that music is second to theology. On the other hand, inappropriate and sensual music can be used by the devil to attack the church and cause God’s people to embrace worldliness and falsehood.

There are some who argue that music is amoral. In answer to these detractors, read Ezekiel 28:13 concerning Satan – “Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created. There is certainly such a thing as devilish music!

Sadly, the church is often influenced by the pop culture of society. Music styles and compositions are adopted in the church without due consideration of the messages they carry. As a result, many songs and compositions in the church today are wafting with sentimentalism. They are often lacking in theology. Mu-sic in the church is rapidly becoming more like the music of Hollywood and rock concerts.

One scourge of Christianity today is the Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) movement. CCM is heavily influenced by hippie culture. It started out as a music movement to reach out to the youth in America who had been affected by a life-style of drugs and free sex. Thus, music used in the church was specially com-posed and selected to be appealing to these youth. Soon, the Pentecostal and Charismatic Movement hopped on the bandwagon, determined to make music that will appeal to the senses of the people who attend the worship services. The result is music that is heavily syncopated and influenced by jazz, rap, blues, hip-hop, punk ska or modern country (Dan Lucarini). It is interesting to note that most of the foremost leaders of the CCM movement are also deeply involved in Charismatism and Ecumenism.

Alas, even self-proclaimed conservative Christian musicians have begun to follow the trend. They begin to use music structures, rhythm and construction as seen in movies. The result is an appeal to the sentimentalism rather than godly affections of those who sing or hear the songs. Beware!

In view of the danger found in the arena of Christian music, we have begun to review the music used in our fellowship groups and other activities. We desire to employ music that is godly and not that which is sensual. Our song books must be free from the influences of CCM, Charismatism and Ecumenism.

Colossians 3:16-17 teaches us the purpose of music and song in the church. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” There are two main purposes:

 To praise God for who He is.

 To teach and admonish one another.
Teaching function. The term “teaching” is the Greek διδάσκω (didaskō) is related to the noun διδαχή (didachē) which has means “teaching” or “doctrine” (Louw-Nida). Therefore the term διδάσκω has the idea of indoctrination. One of the function of hymns is thus to teach doctrine to those who are singing or hearing the song. At the end of the song, the hearers should learn or be reminded concerning the truth of
God’s Word.

Admonishing function. Comes fr om νουθετέω (nouteteō), which means “to counsel about avoidance or cessation of an improper course of conduct, admonish, warn, instruct”. Good Christian hymns thus serve to rebuke us and warn of us of sin.

The result of employing good Christian hymnody and song is that it helps to let God’s Word dwell in us richly. In other words, God’s Word will take strong residence in our lives. We will think and live biblically. Our hearts and minds are constantly in tune with God and His truth.

We use the following principles when evaluating music in the church:

Textual Considerations (i.e. the lyrics)
 Does it promote the glory of God?
 Does it teach good doctrine? Is the theology in accordance with the Word of God?
 Who wrote the words? Any associations with unbiblical movements (Biblical Separation)?

 Musical Considerations
(i.e. the tune)
 Is the message of the music appropriate to the lyrics of the song? Does it assist in promoting the truth of God’s Word?
 How is the music presented? Is it presented in a controlled fashioned? Or is it presented in a sensual manner?

To further assist us in understanding the matter at hand, we have also invited Rev. Joseph Poon of Bible Presbyterian Church of Western Australia (Perth) to conduct a music workshop for us during the church camp. Come to the church camp and learn!

May the Lord keep us pure in the area of music.

Yours affectionately,
Pastor C. Chew