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Unceasing Worship: Biblical Perspectives on Worship and the Arts

May 23, 2011

Kevin DeYoung quoting Harold Best’s Unceasing Worship on the role of faith and music:

I want to jump ahead a few chapters for a moment and apply this concept to music in corporate worship.  (We could use vestments or architecture or sculpture or liturgy to make the same point.)  If in making music or listening to it I assume that faith will bring substance and evidence to the music, so as [to] make it more “worshipful,” I am getting into real trouble.  If I truly love the music–that is, if I have chosen a church that uses “my music” and I am deeply moved by it–I can make the mistake of coupling faith to the musical experience by assuming that the power and effectiveness of music is what brings substance and evidence to my faith.  I can then quite easily forge a connection between the power of music and the nearness of the Lord.  Once this happens, I may even slip fully into the sin of equating the power of music and the nearness of the Lord. At that point music joins the bread and wine in the creation of a new sacrament or even a new kind of transubstantiation.

Or let’s say that I deeply love Jesus but I detest the music–it is not “my music.”  What am I then to do in the absence if a linkage between having faith and loving the music?  Where is God in all of this?  If he is in the music, I will never find him, because to me there is no substance or evidence, even though others are seemingly finding him there.  Do I wait for the right kind of music so that my faith becomes effectual?  Do I look for another church, hoping that my faith will be fed and my felt needs met?  Or do I turn from the music to the Lord, knowing that faith remains faith and the music is merely music and not a sacramental substance that mediates between God and me?  I hope that the last question becomes the only question.  Otherwise, faith needs exterior scaffolding for worship to become authentic worship.

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