In this chapter (ch. 9), Dr. Gary Gilley tackles the subject of music in the church. I am simply going to give an overview of the whole chapter and then conclude with several excellent quotes from this chapter.
He begins this discussion on music in the church by asking us what the biblical mandate is for the church worship services. Is the church there to entertain or amuse or meet people’s needs of personal fulfillment? “Or is it to honour God in spirit and in truth?” (ch. 9) When you take a step back and look at the modern praise and worship services going on in numerous churches today (and quickly becoming the fad and norm), you would find that the focus is not on God, but on the performers, singers and musicians.
How Shall We Then Sing?
While music is a unique way to praise God in worship, the ultimate evaluation of that music in the Christian environment should be whether or not it has aided in the process of helping ‘the Word of Christ to richly dwell within’ us. Just as the authority and truth of Scripture should dominate our preaching and teaching, so should it dominate our singing. (ch. 9)
Contemporary Christian music, in particular, is long on inspiration and short on instruction . . . With this in mind, do the modern praise choruses have a place in our worship services? I personally believe they do, but that place could be likened to the place of dessert in our diet. (ch. 9)
Hearts can be moved by the skillful use of melodies and rhythm no matter what message a given song is conveying. (ch. 9)
Here is where Dr. Gilley gives us an example. The Battle Hymn of the Republic is a song in many hymnbooks today, yet did you know it was written by a liberal Unitarian “who believed in the fatherhood of God over all mankind”? “Her hymn has nothing to do with the spreading of the gospel, or the return of Christ, but rather with the eventual dominion of humanistic ‘truth’ over the entire world.”
David Wells took three well-known hymnals totaling over 1,000 songs and conducted a study on their doctrinal content. These were his findings:
. . . Wells claimed that 58.9 percent of the praise songs he analyzed offer no doctrinal grounding or explanation for the praise. By contrast, among classical hymns ‘it was hard to find hymns that were not predicated upon and did not develop some aspects of doctrine.’ (ch. 9)
There was so much to this chapter, I can in no way put it all here. I was immensely blessed by this study on music in the church! So many times I find myself singing the old, old hymns and forgetting the beauty contained within the lyrics themselves.
So What Should We Do?
Dr. Gilley gives four steps on how we can incorporate good, doctrinal music in the church. He expounds on each step, but this is the shortened version:
First, we should evaluate all the music we sing in our churches. Does it teach solid theology? Does it admonish us to correct living?
Second, churches must receive training regarding this whole areas of entertainment . . .
Third, we could study with great profit the Psalms to discover how music is to be used to accomplish its biblically mandated goal.
Fourth, we need to teach our children good Christian music within the context of the church. (ch. 9)
My favorite quote:
The reaction of the concerned Christian is to be ever mindful that the Word, and not our experience, is our authority.
If you are just beginning this book study of “This Little Church Went To Market” with us, you are welcome to begin the series here. To purchase your copy, you can buy one on Amazon (paperback and kindle – affiliate link) or on Dr. Gilley’s website here.