More “Strange Fire”? – What IS “Christian Music”? – Part 2

“Gospel” is not a genre, it’s a subject. Ever thought about that? In Part 1, we looked at how “Christian Music” describes the content, the subject matter and the worldview, not the style. The terms may have become synonymous with a genre, but they are not. Elder Lemon’s argument is dependent on viewing rap, reggae, hip hop and rock as content rather than style.

And this is problematic because there are several times in scripture where something that was “holy” looked and sounded like something “in the world”, and yet the content, subject and worldview were completely different.

Case in point, listening purely by ear alone, how would David’s “inspired music” (as Elder Lemon calls it) be distinguishable from the music of any other pagan nation in the Ancient Near East?

Elder Lemon mentions dancing as though there is such a thing as “holy dancing”, but when David danced he looked like a madman.

When Hannah came to the tabernacle to pray and pour out her heart to God, Eli thought she was drunk!

When the Spirit fell upon King Saul and he prophesied, he stripped down naked and lay all night before Samuel. Many would call that obscene.

On the day of Pentecost, the 120 looked like they were intoxicated.

Because here’s what we don’t realise: To the ancient mind, prophesying and praise looked like drunkenness because drunkenness was associated with merriment and jubilation.

Now that’s not to say they’re the same thing, that they come from the same source or that they’re done for the same reason; but at first glance they’re not easily distinguished.

The assumption that we make is that when God gave us the revelation to worship, that our worship was supposed to look completely alien to anything in the rest of the world. News flash, it wasn’t. The point wasn’t so much “How do you worship?” but “WHO do you worship?” because the Who has a direct impact on the How.

It’s been popular amongst atheists and apostates to focus on the fact that other religions and nations around Israel held similar practices, beliefs and ethics to those taught in the Bible as though the Bible copied from the world! What they neglect to take into account is that there was a time when the whole world shared the same theology; men called upon the name of Yahweh. This changed at Babel when mankind was divided up and scattered, given over to worship other gods:

  • “And beware lest you raise your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, you be drawn away and bow down to them and serve them, things that the Lord your God has allotted to all the peoples under the whole heaven.” – Deut 4:19
  • “…all the nations will say, ‘Why has the Lord done thus to this land?…Then people will say, ‘It is because they [Israel] abandoned the covenant of the Lord, the God of their fathers…and went and served other gods and worshiped them, gods whom they had not known and whom he had not allotted to them.” – Deut 29:24-26

What’s my point? That all other religions are a corruption and distortion of the truth and that the most dangerous lies are those that are closest to the truth. As a result, we’ll conclude that the “truth” cannot possibly look like or include anything that we consider “worldly”, not thinking that maybe these things weren’t worldly until the world made them worldly?

Case in point, Elder Lemon focused first of all on 1 Samuel 16:14-23

When David played music for Saul, it says Saul was “refreshed and was well, and the harmful spirit departed from him.”

The first question we should be asking is “Why was music effective in driving away an evil spirit?” There was no lyricism involved and the Bible doesn’t tell us what genre of music David played, only the instrument.

The Hebrew word for “refreshed” in this passage (ravach) is from the same root as the word “ruwach” or “spirit” Ravach means to “breathe easy” or “breathe unhindered” which makes sense in light of the fact that all of the words for “spirit” in scripture can mean “breath” or “wind”.

In other words, David playing music refreshed Saul’s spirit because it put him in a good mood. See, “spirit” describes your “inner man” and that includes your thoughts and your emotions.

Saul’s mind was being oppressed by an evil spirit; the imagery is like someone pressing down on your chest so that you struggle to breathe. But putting him in a good mood, through music, relieved his spirit from this oppression.

Elder Lemon asks “Did David rap?” but this misses the point. That David used no lyricism is irrelevant; it was the effect that this music had on Saul that’s important. It gladdened his heart; making his heart glad refreshed his spirit. Scripture directly ties the state of your spirit to your heart, mind and physical condition. Because see, “heart”, “mind” and “spirit” are used interchangeably in scripture.

  • “A glad heart makes a cheerful face, but by sorrow of heart the spirit is crushed.” – Proverbs 15:13
  • “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” – Proverbs 17:22

So if your heart is sorrowful, your spirit is crushed and this dries up your bones. But, if your heart is glad and joyful, this is like good medicine that gives you a cheerful face. This is actually why Paul told Timothy to drink wine for his stomach problems. God actually made wine to be beneficial to mankind, did you know that? Scripture tells us:

  • “You cause grass to grow for the livestock and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food from the earth and wine to gladden the heart of man, oil to make his face shine and bread to strengthen man’s heart.” – Psalm 104:14

God created wine to gladden man’s hearts and food to strengthen man’s heart. Why? Because a glad and joyful heart makes a cheerful face and is good medicine! And what does a righteous person do when they’re full of joy? Who do they turn their attention to?

Now if the thought of that made you uncomfortable, chances are it’s because the world has made the consumption of wine worldly and you can’t think of it any other way.

Can not the same be said for genres of music? If there is a godly use for wine (i.e the Lord’s Supper), is there not one for hip-hop, R’n’B, jazz and rock?

Stay tuned for Part 3

Until then, I leave you with this video from Datin of God Over Money, recently accused of looking and sounding “too angry” in “Hallelujah All Day” from his album The Roar. Listen to the lyrics and drop us your thoughts!

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