Part 1 Rebuttles on “Music: A Matter of Taste or Biblical Analysis?”
Below are rebuttles that came in to the music article, posted back in February. There were a couple social media forms through which these responses came. Since there was overlap in some of the rebuttles from this various channels, what I have done is selected the best of the rebuttles and provided my response to those accordingly. Please enjoy.
Isaac Anderson, “Thank you so much Daniel for your extremely thoughtful, and engaging paper. One point I would like to pick at, and I’m afraid it is your main point, is your explanation of the backbeat. “The backbeat constantly goes against the natural rhythmic patterns of music which God created. ”
Why is this? You say it causes confusion, but I don’t understand how this is so, the musical piece in and of itself is still a symmetrical pattern. How does having the emphasis on a different beat create confusion?
I think this may have to end up being something we agree to disagree on, but in your paper, I believe we have come to an understanding on where we stand and thats awesome 😀 😀
Thank you for this hard work Daniel :)”
Isaac, thank you for asking that question so I can better clarify that point. 🙂 The major thrust I want to leave you all with is the truth that Scripture has much to say about the music in a believer’s life, and it thereby behooves us as believers to be constantly “proving what is acceptable unto the Lord (Ephesians 5:10).”
While I address your question on the confusion aspect of the backbeat, please keep in mind the paper in its entirety (as all of it is essential together) and then also the other points that were addressed by the backbeat.
Okay, so let’s ask this question, “Why does the backbeat cause confusion when in and of itself is still a symmetrical pattern?”
It does constantly go against the natural rhythmic pattern and emphasis of music (duple form), which we had concluded God to be the creator of, since without these patterns music is dead.
The accompanying lyrics in the melody follow the natural rhythmic pattern of music. For example, the natural emphasis will tend to be on the 1st and 3rd beats; this merely follows natural poetic form.
With the repetitive usage of the backbeat (always replacing the emphasis off from God’s natural emphasis to the 2nd and 4th beats), the rhythm has become an entity of itself. This means that if we removed the melody and harmony, the rhythm would still exist in the form of the constant driving backbeat (an over excess of rhythm (which is talked about)). Rather than complimenting the melody, the backbeat is continuously contradicting it. What happens is these two musical components are fighting against each other for dominance in the music when they should be working with each other and kept in their proper priority as Scripture speaks about. Because the melody (and lyrics) and rhythm are working against each other, this does not create unity but rather a music of confusion since there is no clear message, but rather two contradicting ones.
Remember, the Beatles said that their music (with this backbeat), “is capable of causing emotional instability, disorganized behavior, rebellion and even revolution.”
You may ask, “Why am I quoting secularists?” These music artists know full well what their music (with the backbeat) does and are honest about it. Furthermore, we may expect something like this said from a Christian defending what is being brought forth; it should get a hold of our attention even more so when the lost world is saying this about type of music. Look at the words, ‘emotional instability, disorganized behavior’- confusion.
Let’s build on this with the ensuing idea.
When the melody is present and the lyrics are God-honoring while the music extensively utilizes the backbeat, we have conflict taking place. These lyrics and melody ought to minister to us spiritually and seeks to draw us that way. But then at the same time the continuous backbeats in the music (thereby over-usage of rhythm) because rhythm affects the body, elicits a desired sensual, physical response to the music- it is appealing to our old fleshly nature. Remember that God’s desire is for Christians to be focused on the spiritual while Satan’s desire is that our eyes are off the spiritual and focused on the physical. Now, we have this music that is trying to draw us closer to God spiritually (through the melody and also the words) while trying to draw us closer to the physical, sensual aspect (in the unnatural backbeat form). But, how can music please God and Satan at the same time? The backbeat thereby creates confusion and distracts the believer from the spiritual through the physical aspect of its unnatural rhythm. Scripture tells us that Christ can have nothing to with the devil (2 Corinthians 6). These two things cannot be joined together. Two masters cannot be served. Even James talks about how a double-minded man is unstable in all his ways; a music in the which rhythmic part (in the unnatural backbeat) dominates the God-ordained order of melody is communicating two separate, contradictory ideas, creating a music of confusion.
But as we have seen in 1 Corinthians 14:33- “For God is not the author of confusion [instability, disorder, confusion], but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.”
Just for thought: Can this music really be from God when God is not the author of confusion? And why is it being used in worship of a holy God?
Hopefully, I was better able to answer your question on the backbeat creates confusion, Isaac. Thank you again for the reply. 😀 And yes, there is nothing wrong with agreeing to disagree if it comes to that. We’ll be in heaven because of what Christ did for us on the cross of Calvary. While these other Scriptural doctrines/topics are very important, at least they do not affect our eternal destiny. 😀 Thanks again!
Austin Harrison- “So here is a new question to stir the pot. How can you justify going to places that play that music? The grocery store, Target, Walmart, etc. You are intentionally placing yourself in an environment where your ears will receive the sounds. Seems a bit inconsistent, if your typed standards are are strong as mentioned in posts.”
Thank you for your reply, Austin. 🙂 Unfortunately, you cannot go anywhere today without being affected by this sensual music. It is, like you said, everywhere you go (even too in the workplace).
Jesus Christ prayed to God the Father concerning believers in John 17:15, “I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.”
We as Christian are here to stay on earth for a purpose after our salvation- to carry out the Great Commission as defined in Matthew 28:18-20). God could have just taken us home to heaven to get us out of this mess, but He left us with the purpose that we be shining lights for Christ. Jesus said in Mathew 5:15-16, “Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (we diminish the light when we conform to the evil of the world (Romans 12:2)). Jesus wants us to be kept from the evil in this world, not taken out of the world. We cannot be lights for Christ secluded in our own homes (and mind you, this music has the potential to penetrate inside the home as well; it is everywhere.) We as Christians are to be in the world, but not partakers of the evil in the world. Saying that we will not go anywhere but confine ourselves to our homes is not the solution to “I love listening to this inappropriate music”. That is not a Biblical solution (yes, we are to be separate from the evils of the world (in our example: rock, rap music, other sensual kinds) but we were placed by God in the world for a purpose.) It is like jumping from the ditch in one side of the road to the ditch in the other side of the road. There are Godly folks on the music issue that say, “Just play it extremely safe so there’s no possibility.” (In essence, make another fence around God’s Word). The problem is: you will get ‘burned’ because your thinking is not based upon the Word of God. We have to be careful about making man-made rules that act as a fence around God’s Word. We ought to let God’s Word speak for Itself and the follow it accordingly. Staying confined in a home and not going about normal activities is in essence jumping to the other ditch. God’s Word is our rule of authority, not our thoughts.
Because this wrong music is everywhere, it is even more important that we are constantly walking in the Spirit when we are out and about in our normal activities. Galatians 5:16 says, “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.” It is important that we put on the armor of God to withstand Satan’s fiery darts (Ephesians 6). Satan would so desire the we as Christians lock ourselves in our homes and never go to the grocery store or out to eat, so that the lost do not see our light. (and yes, there are certain places that Christians ought to stay away from, but that is not for this discussion).
There are places you must go in life as part of the daily routine, work schedule, and what God has. And we need to remember to walk in the Spirit so we will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. It is harmful to us. And sure, it would be nice if everywhere played good music, but the devil doesn’t work that way.
It is a given that we are going to get our feet dirty in the world; it’s life; it’s our sinful human nature; it’s going to happen, regardless what sin it is (sin is sin), what we say, or even the wrong thoughts we think. That is why we need to walk in the Spirit continually and be in God’s Word for a daily spiritual cleansing.
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” -2 Corinthians 10:3-5
As we walk in the Spirit and have on the armor of God, we need to be constantly casting down everything that exalts itself above Christ. This is a constant battle from day to day for me, as I’m sure it is with all of us. Again, Christ does not want us out of the world, he wants us kept from the evil. We need to “proving what is acceptable unto the Lord (Ephesians 5:10)” and have the spirit of discernment to “be wise as serpents, and harmless as doves (Matthew 10:16).
Thanks again for the question, Austin! God bless!
David Haymond, “I completely agree that we need to base our views entirely on Scripture. However, Scripture is clear in numerous places (Psalm 150 for example) that music, as an art form, is created by God and meant for His worship and our enjoyment. Unless there is Scriptural evidence that a particular style of music is evil, we are free to use that style in appropriate ways. In other words, I don’t think we need to have “Scriptural proof” that rock music (for example) is evil. Rather, [b]all music[/b] is good unless Scriptural principles say otherwise. I am not saying that Scripture does or does not condone rock; I am just pointing out that unless either Scripture forbids it, or the music itself is not appropriate for the context, it is not wrong.”
I absolutely agree with the usage of Psalm 150 in that any instrument can be used in worship to God. Nowhere does the Bible say that a certain instrument is inherently evil in and of itself (just a side note: you may have noticed drums in the first video of Ben Everson’s “My Hope is Jesus”- they were used inside God’s created rhythmic pattern). It is how instruments are played that can make them to be used for evil. The passage doesn’t reference style though- it’s about instruments. Can [b]all[/b] music really be good though since both God and the corrupted devil are musical…. since there is music that glorifies God and corrupted music that glorifies the devil? Thanks for the thoughts, David! 😀
Nathan L, “Daniel, I have a couple questions for you, and these are honest questions that I want to know your thoughts on, not sarcasm or mockery. 🙂 (also, if you answered the questions in your paper go ahead and point me to which post it was in. 🙂 )
First one: If Rock didn’t have a backbeat, would it still be wrong?
And I forgot the other question. :|”
It’s a good question. And here’s the answer (well… the backdrop to the answer): If Rock music did not have the backbeat, it would not be Rock music (it could become “folk’ or a ‘ballad’). The extensive utilization of the backbeat in Rock music is what sets Rock apart from any genre. With that said however, the rock-beat (backbeat-same thing) can be found in other genres as well. One of the aims is not to look at genres but evaluate the backbeat tool (a removing of the dominant emphasis on the 1st and 3rd beat as created by God in the duple form and placing this emphasis on the 2nd and 4th- which is against God’s created order) in light of Scripture.
The backbeat is not the only tool in Rock music. Under the section “Invading the Intimate Zone” how the voice is used is talked about and evaluated. So, removing the backbeat from Rock (which would make it not Rock right there) does not guarantee its goodness. Depends on what else is being used. Hopefully, this answers your question. 🙂
I must say that your second question was the easiest one to answer. 😛 I very much liked it. 😉