Is Contemporary Christian Music Evil? The Lost Biblical Perspective

UGC

Active member
Joined
Jan 18, 2020
Messages
323
Reaction score
22
Points
28
Hey all,

As a professional-level composer with Baptist doctrine, I wanted to share some lost but powerful perspectives on Biblical music and church tradition, and the ripple effect they've created throughout history, often not fully known or clarified among many Baptist churches of our day:


When you get a chance do watch the whole thing through, I'm hoping the video will be a real eye-opener and profoundly educational, albeit in a simple way.

God bless,

James of UGC
 

Ransom

Calvinist Mole
Staff member
Administrator
Doctor
Registered
Joined
Jan 25, 2012
Messages
7,472
Reaction score
75
Points
48
Gave a very quick scan--just enough to want to give it a proper listen later.

I noticed you mentioned something about people ignoring "fundamental music theory" at around 40 mins in (a few moments before playing your composition). Can I ask what you're calling fundamental music theory (i.e. are you thinking of a particular school of theory, musical genre, ???) Not a trick question--just trying to draw out a little perspective.
 

UGC

Active member
Joined
Jan 18, 2020
Messages
323
Reaction score
22
Points
28
Gave a very quick scan--just enough to want to give it a proper listen later.

I noticed you mentioned something about people ignoring "fundamental music theory" at around 40 mins in (a few moments before playing your composition). Can I ask what you're calling fundamental music theory (i.e. are you thinking of a particular school of theory, musical genre, ???) Not a trick question--just trying to draw out a little perspective.
Sure, by fundamental music theory I mean the foundational understanding of the structure of music understood by both Christian and secular composers in history, to include fundamental concepts that govern music like tension and release. These concepts are actually correlated with physics as they have to do with time and energy, and can even be said to correlate to string theory in theoretical physics (the concept that the entire universe is actually vibrating strings at the sub-atomic level).

These concepts should be ubiquitous across all music schools in the west to my knowledge, but really should be universal among all schools of thought.
 

Walt

Active member
Doctor
Registered
Joined
Jan 24, 2013
Messages
2,631
Reaction score
19
Points
38
Right at the beginning is an error - discusses "the Baptist church" separating itself from contemporary Christian music.

As far as I know, there is no singe "Baptist church"; in truth, some Baptist churches fully embrace CCM; others are totally against it; I suspect the majority of churches with the name "Baptist" try to avoid what they see as extremes on both sides; they take words they like from CCM songs, and tone down parts they find objectionable.
 

Walt

Active member
Doctor
Registered
Joined
Jan 24, 2013
Messages
2,631
Reaction score
19
Points
38
Minor point, but why is "psaltery" mis-pronounced constantly? It's "SAUL-tuh-ree", not "SOT-uh-ree"
 

Walt

Active member
Doctor
Registered
Joined
Jan 24, 2013
Messages
2,631
Reaction score
19
Points
38
In another place, it is claimed that UGC is balanced because a false balance is an abomination to the Lord. Terrible abuse of Scripture. A "false balance" is not one that is not balanced; it's when a standard weight reading "1 pound" or "10 pounds" has been deliberately altered to not be a pound. An evil merchant would keep two sets of weights; when buying, he'd bring out the "heavy" weights so that the seller would give him more. And when the evil merchant is selling, he brings out the lighter weights. It's one form of cheating, and these false weights were an abomination. (I assume that a similar thing could be done with the balance itself so that it wouldn't read "balanced" with equal weights. It has nothing to do with people being balanced in their view of things... not to mention that "balanced" is highly subjective.
 

UGC

Active member
Joined
Jan 18, 2020
Messages
323
Reaction score
22
Points
28
In another place, it is claimed that UGC is balanced because a false balance is an abomination to the Lord. Terrible abuse of Scripture. A "false balance" is not one that is not balanced; it's when a standard weight reading "1 pound" or "10 pounds" has been deliberately altered to not be a pound. An evil merchant would keep two sets of weights; when buying, he'd bring out the "heavy" weights so that the seller would give him more. And when the evil merchant is selling, he brings out the lighter weights. It's one form of cheating, and these false weights were an abomination. (I assume that a similar thing could be done with the balance itself so that it wouldn't read "balanced" with equal weights. It has nothing to do with people being balanced in their view of things... not to mention that "balanced" is highly subjective.
First, you're quoting the wrong verse. I'm speaking of the one from Proverbs 11:1, but why don't we go with your example anyway.

The example you provided pertains to the immediate situational context supporting the statement that a false balance is not good, but even though it serves to support it, it does not narrow the context of the statement by manner of exclusivity by any means. "A false balance is an abomination" is the statement of principle, and it is not exclusively applicable to the single supporting example of weighing money (the type of which mentioned isn't used by us anyway).

Congruence with the stated principle is found throughout scripture. For example, Ecclesiastes 7:15-17

"All things have I seen in the days of my vanity: there is a just man that perisheth in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man that prolongeth his life in his wickedness. Be not righteous over much; neither make thyself over wise: why shouldest thou destroy thyself? Be not over much wicked, neither be thou foolish: why shouldest thou die before thy time?"

Again here we see the concept of wisdom in balance.

Some things in scripture are literal exclusive to the situation, some are literal by principle, and some are figurative (for example when objects in nature such as mountains are described with personified verbs).

Now let's refer to Proverbs 11:1:

The statement is not one of exclusivity such as, for example Eph. 1:13 "...ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise", which has an exclusive application in that we can't say other things are now sealed with the Spirit, however, the statement "A false balance is an abomination to the LORD: but a just weight is his delight" is not exclusive in nature at all, in fact it is a statement of principle (and the first verse of the chapter: a good principle to then base of off) by which the writer can THEN narrow into specific supporting examples in the following verses should he so chose.
 
Last edited:

UGC

Active member
Joined
Jan 18, 2020
Messages
323
Reaction score
22
Points
28
Minor point, but why is "psaltery" mis-pronounced constantly? It's "SAUL-tuh-ree", not "SOT-uh-ree"
Yeah that is a minor point. I like the way I pronounced it better: the other way sounds almost exactly like "sultry", and if you've ever studied subjects like Neuro-linguistic Programming as just one minor example, you'd know this would have countered my overall message for the listener on a subconscious level by implanting a "fleshly" sub-context in their minds by phonetical association.

Also, being a multi-genre composer / songwriter / lyricist / musician, I don't think it would be a problem entering this alternative pronunciation into the dictionaries. Tomato, tam "ah" to.

Are you also a professional-level composer by chance? (I'm being facetious by fair play as you did accuse UGC of employing "TERRIBLE" "ABUSE" of scripture: I want to make sure future challengers have their Biblical and musical arguments in order because I don't really want to answer a hundred Baptists' questions about why their cultural traditions shouldn't be idolized, especially if certain of them are absent from scripture.)
 
Last edited:

UGC

Active member
Joined
Jan 18, 2020
Messages
323
Reaction score
22
Points
28
Right at the beginning is an error - discusses "the Baptist church" separating itself from contemporary Christian music.

As far as I know, there is no singe "Baptist church"; in truth, some Baptist churches fully embrace CCM; others are totally against it; I suspect the majority of churches with the name "Baptist" try to avoid what they see as extremes on both sides; they take words they like from CCM songs, and tone down parts they find objectionable.
Yeah I didn't have time to open the video by listing each and every specific Baptist sect I was talking about, I'm pretty sure most of the audience isn't autistically literal and can get the general idea of what I meant.

Also, my doctrine is Baptist as well so I was aware.

I was not aware until recently, however, of how some (not all, just to legalistically dot my "i's") Baptists residing on forums nitpick at insignificant or otherwise irrelevant things. Further evidence for me, at least, that the cultural traditions of men need to loosen up in some (not all, just to legalistically cross my "t's") Baptist circles. Thankfully most of them were not found on this forum (yet, just to straighten my tie).

By comparison, with what many circles often respond to from a place of general humility and an eagerness to learn, many (not all, just to wipe the dandruff off my shoulder) "Baptist forum warriors" I've encountered seem to be in love with being right more than getting right with the truth if it means humbling themselves before God and actually changing, as they often associate being conservative with never changing. If this eager-to-prove-anyone-who-doesn't-look-like-you wrong debate culture is as prevalent as my intuition signals, you're going to have a hard time with me, because truth and defending truth from an intellectual standpoint is my forte (didn't accent the "e" over forte on purpose, I hope it doesn't rile up a strong desire to correct me from a place of pseudo-dominance ). I'm not sure if God is looking to humble some Baptists (not all, just to be a legalistic judge, non-dispensationally so, from the book of Judges), as it is the end times and people better drop their egos and get right with the Bible, not their ethnocentric control bubbles.

I'm a conservative. UGC is conservative. But we do it well. And with balance. :cool:

Stay tuned to UGC Podcasts.
 
Last edited:

ALAYMAN

Well-known member
Doctor
Registered
Joined
Feb 2, 2012
Messages
5,432
Reaction score
32
Points
48
First, you're quoting the wrong verse. I'm speaking of the one from Proverbs 11:1, but why don't we go with your example anyway.

The example you provided pertains to the immediate situational context supporting the statement that a false balance is not good, but even though it serves to support it, it does not narrow the context of the statement by manner of exclusivity by any means. "A false balance is an abomination" is the statement of principle, and it is not exclusively applicable to the single supporting example of weighing money (the type of which mentioned isn't used by us anyway).

Congruence with the stated principle is found throughout scripture. For example, Ecclesiastes 7:15-17

"All things have I seen in the days of my vanity: there is a just man that perisheth in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man that prolongeth his life in his wickedness. Be not righteous over much; neither make thyself over wise: why shouldest thou destroy thyself? Be not over much wicked, neither be thou foolish: why shouldest thou die before thy time?"

Again here we see the concept of wisdom in balance.

Some things in scripture are literal exclusive to the situation, some are literal by principle, and some are figurative (for example when objects in nature such as mountains are described with personified verbs).

Now let's refer to Proverbs 11:1:

The statement is not one of exclusivity such as, for example Eph. 1:13 "...ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise", which has an exclusive application in that we can't say other things are now sealed with the Spirit, however, the statement "A false balance is an abomination to the LORD: but a just weight is his delight" is not exclusive in nature at all, in fact it is a statement of principle (and the first verse of the chapter: a good principle to then base of off) by which the writer can THEN narrow into specific supporting examples in the following verses should he so chose.
What is the principle being taught in Proverbs 11:1 about balances?

In relation to the central message in your podcast, I believe what you are teaching is relatively accurate to the principles of music. Without getting too wordy, I believe the issue ultimately comes down to one of subjectivity and of preferences.
 

UGC

Active member
Joined
Jan 18, 2020
Messages
323
Reaction score
22
Points
28
What is the principle being taught in Proverbs 11:1 about balances?

In relation to the central message in your podcast, I believe what you are teaching is relatively accurate to the principles of music. Without getting too wordy, I believe the issue ultimately comes down to one of subjectivity and of preferences.
I can agree with that, I think most churches outside of culturally conservative ones have no issue with others who want to stick to hymnals. The inverse is what I'm offering my perspective for: very culturally conserv. churches definitely preach against music they feel is unfamiliar to their traditions, when these traditions don't even match the Bible in large part (I imagine Baptists time traveling to watch and rebuke Israel dance to timbrels: not saying they should dance too, but they also shouldn't rebuke dancing).

The statement itself is a principle: "A false balance is an abomination (this statement is a non-exclusionary principle): but (contrast) a just weight (the opposite of a false balance) is his delight (the same principle by inverse statement)".
By contrast, this statement is exclusive: "ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise", it cannot be applied as a general principle.

Proverbs 11:1 uses it is as a general rule of principle without a supporting example of weighing money, while in other places this supporting example may be used.
However, the sealing verse cannot work the same way, it has no supporting example: it is the example, therefore it is an exclusive statement and not one of general principle.
 

Ransom

Calvinist Mole
Staff member
Administrator
Doctor
Registered
Joined
Jan 25, 2012
Messages
7,472
Reaction score
75
Points
48
First, you're quoting the wrong verse. I'm speaking of the one from Proverbs 11:1, but why don't we go with your example anyway.
To be fair, I think Walt's got you there, too. Prov. 11:1 contrasts a "false balance" with "just weights." Literally, it's saying dishonest weights and measures are an abomination.

To my ears, you're saying a "false balance" is something like swinging the pendulum too far from the happy medium to the opposite extreme. On the other hand, if by "false balance" you mean something like "false/unbiblical/extreme/double standards," then you'll get no argument from me; I think that's a fair application of the proverb.

My first exposure to the "backbeat" argument was in the early 1990s, in IBLP (Bill Gothard) material, when it was used for the young adults at a church I briefly attended. They used a similar argument to your "voodoo" one, except that the backbeat was supposedly the beat used by African shamans to drive evil spirits into people. The answer is the same: a musicologist will tell you that for every African village, there was a different way of summoning spirits: a drum, a stringed instrument, a rattle. (There's also an implicit racism in the accusation; it's a more subtle way of calling the backbeat "jungle music.")

I remember reading somewhere that James Brown hired musicians who were accustomed to playing in churches, and they initially had a hard time playing "on the 1" (the heavy downbeat that's characteristic of funk), because their church music was all based on a backbeat rather than a downbeat.
 

UGC

Active member
Joined
Jan 18, 2020
Messages
323
Reaction score
22
Points
28
To be fair, I think Walt's got you there, too. Prov. 11:1 contrasts a "false balance" with "just weights." Literally, it's saying dishonest weights and measures are an abomination.

To my ears, you're saying a "false balance" is something like swinging the pendulum too far from the happy medium to the opposite extreme. On the other hand, if by "false balance" you mean something like "false/unbiblical/extreme/double standards," then you'll get no argument from me; I think that's a fair application of the proverb.

My first exposure to the "backbeat" argument was in the early 1990s, in IBLP (Bill Gothard) material, when it was used for the young adults at a church I briefly attended. They used a similar argument to your "voodoo" one, except that the backbeat was supposedly the beat used by African shamans to drive evil spirits into people. The answer is the same: a musicologist will tell you that for every African village, there was a different way of summoning spirits: a drum, a stringed instrument, a rattle. (There's also an implicit racism in the accusation; it's a more subtle way of calling the backbeat "jungle music.")

I remember reading somewhere that James Brown hired musicians who were accustomed to playing in churches, and they initially had a hard time playing "on the 1" (the heavy downbeat that's characteristic of funk), because their church music was all based on a backbeat rather than a downbeat.
I did read what you said here though my point about verses either being literal by exclusivity to the situation, literal by principle, or figurative, still stands and wasn't yet addressed. Also, the "just weight" (not weights) in Prov. 11:1 is simply stating the exact same principle as the initial statement by inverse: if something is in balance (not just money), it is literally "a just weight", by contrast, "a false balance" is an abomination (the same principle by inverse statement). Actually, the argument that this statement is exclusive to money is weaker because it means only money needs to be in balance (by exclusivity), so everything else in life might be wildly out of balance and that's OK, as it can only be about money.

As the statement itself is a principle, God may use money as the supporting example to teach a broader lesson about balance that is equally applicable to numerous correlating aspects of life.

Really interesting insight on the music, btw, but just to point out, Backbeat and Downbeat are part of the same thing. Downbeat is the 1 of the backbeat. The snare on the offbeat simply balances out the strong entrance of the 1 by releasing some of the tension created by the tight kick, as the snare is typically looser and rings out more compared to the tightness of the kick drum. If we take away the snare, all you have is tension building in the same low frequency level over and over with back-to-back tight kicks (which ironically is a common method used to build tension in pre-sections of songs before letting the drums breathe with the snare, or sometimes open hi-hats).

Also I should note that chord tension and release often works inverse to the drums for natural reasons. A chord might release tension on the 1, but doing so with power requires a strong foundation to hold firm the base (or bass, both apply) in the low frequency (the kick drum). If it's a big release, the kick will usually be accompanied by a crash cymbal to release tension alongside the chord in the higher frequencies. Composers have to think both vertically through the frequency ranges and horizontally through time, and since music is not static but always in motion, there will be a constant ebb and flow of tension and release.

Also, the mention of African drummers brings to mind the documentary "EE-TAOW", which films the live conversion of an entire tribe who's primary (if not only) familiar instruments were drums. After converting, they start playing the drums and worshipping Jesus for like 3 hrs straight (from what I remember). I think God honored their hearts here. I have numerous close black friends who have literally told me drums and rhythm speak to black people not because of voodoo, but because it hits them in the solar plexus and it moves them in the heart. I produced a few tracks with strong downbeat and their responses were often "that hit me right here man" pointing to their chest. You'll notice how (generally speaking, not stereotyping everyone) black people generally keep it real and strongly value honest, straightforward communication, whereas some other ethnicities might (generally) operate more out of the tact of their headspace (evidence in their music too: less bass, which resonates in the chest, and more mid-to-high frequencies that resonate in the head: and mixing engineers will literally mix different genres with different emphases on the same instruments in different frequency ranges). Just to caveat, I'm not a racist, there are all kinds of people in all races that might not fit any of this at all, I'm just saying these are general themes told to me by my black friends themselves, who I get along well with. And, we always have to keep in mind the Biblical use of timbrels and dancing: which prove there ARE drums and dancing that is godly, and shamans using "only drums" for their voodoo doesn't discount this point.
 
Last edited:

ALAYMAN

Well-known member
Doctor
Registered
Joined
Feb 2, 2012
Messages
5,432
Reaction score
32
Points
48
I did read what you said here though my point about verses either being literal by exclusivity to the situation, literal by principle, or figurative, still stands and wasn't yet addressed. Also, the "just weight" (not weights) in Prov. 11:1 is simply stating the exact same principle as the initial statement by inverse: if something is in balance (not just money), it is literally "a just weight", by contrast, "a false balance" is an abomination (the same principle by inverse statement)....
The principle being put forth regarding "balance" in Proberbs 11:1 is one of maintaining relationships that are equitable, honest and not built upon fraudulent treatment. How does the invocation of that principle equate to your usage of it?
 

UGC

Active member
Joined
Jan 18, 2020
Messages
323
Reaction score
22
Points
28
The principle being put forth regarding "balance" in Proberbs 11:1 is one of maintaining relationships that are equitable, honest and not built upon fraudulent treatment. How does the invocation of that principle equate to your usage of it?
I mean... if that's your interpretation of it then it only further proves my point that it is a statement of principle and not exclusive to the situational example used to support it, because it means the same principle is used for both money and relationships in different passages, proving it is a principle. A principle is a concept or a rule of thumb that can be applied to different situations in life.

The entire Bible is full of these, that's why it says all scripture is for our learning (but, as a dispensationalist, might not be specific instructions for us if they are literally exclusive, for example: men should have shorter hair in church than women who should have longer hair than men: both are exclusive statements that cannot then be swapped and applied to the opposite genders, or to animals or anything else: they are specific and exclusive instructions, they are not statements of principle that can then be supported by examples specific to the situation).

A similar theme is seen with types and shadows as well: the blood of the lamb on the Jews' doorways in Egypt saved them from death, which is a type and shadow of the blood of the Lamb which washes away our sins. It would be almost autistically literal to argue "No, the blood in the first passage is not talking about Jesus, it doesn't say that, the context is protecting their firstborn, you're ripping it out of context".

There are principles and types and shadows throughout scripture that can certainly be applied as lessons or rules of thumb for how we should conduct ourselves with wisdom in many situations in life, as all things are intertwined in some way: that's why if you've ever picked up a lot of experience or expertise in one area of study (for me, music) and then jumped into a completely different one (i.e. lets say jiu-jitsu), you'll immediately notice many of the principles that govern music transfer and help you understand and pick up that new skill faster. It is factual that people with multiple expertises pick up new ones quicker and quicker because of this intertwined nature of general principles like balance governing God's created universe.
 
Last edited:

UGC

Active member
Joined
Jan 18, 2020
Messages
323
Reaction score
22
Points
28
Just continuing the conversation:

 
Top