Thursday, May 28, 2015

Spiritual Songs (Part 5 of 8)

Music possesses emotional power.  It has the power to create emotional experiences.  God’s people have used music throughout their history to express their faith.  The danger with music is that it allows for an emotional shortcut to a “spiritual” experience.  Think of a balance scale.  On one side we have the truth content of the lyrics.  On the other we have the emotional content of the music.  From which side do we want our spirituality to emerge?

Think of that balance again.  The lighter the content of the lyrics, the more pressure you place on the music to create the spiritual experience.  The principle we draw from this structure is that the weaker the lyrics the greater the danger of creating an emotional shortcut to perceived "spirituality".  While we may appreciate the experience and emotion of the song, the lack of content suggests that we ought not allow it to define our spirituality.  It simply cannot bear the weight of spiritual truth content.

These songs have unfortunately trained people to be satisfied with a level of spirituality that weeps at the allure of the partial, the unfinished, the unbalanced.  We have raised a generation that judges the spiritual best by experience rather than truth.  Christians must develop an appreciation for the full, the balanced, the excellent.

In music for corporate worship, we may list some elements to avoid.
  1. We should beware the simplistic.  An unbalanced truth often appears in these songs.  The positive aspects of God’s attributes and human life often exclude God’s wrath and human suffering.  
  2. We should avoid the repetitive.  There is nothing wrong with repetition.  Repetition fills song length without adding anything to the truth content.  If we desire spirituality based on truth, we want as much truth as possible in our hymns.    
  3. We should beware songs that seem to directly appeal to the emotional.  Songs performed for the purpose of creating an environment rather than proclaiming truth should be avoided.  
  4. Obviously, songs with questionable or speculative theology should only appear in our personal music.  The rigors of regulated worship forbid lyrics unsubstantiated by scripture.
I want to stress again.  The songs I criticize here are not evil.  They may be good.  They simply are not best.  They should not be included in corporate worship.  In your personal enjoyment, please support your favorite artist, but understand the difference between corporate worship and personal enjoyment.

(Continued next week)

No comments:

Post a Comment