I’m still away with Julie on our 30th anniversary trip, seeking to bless her for God’s glory.
This is another quote from Harold Best, this time from his book, Unceasing Worship. He is helping us to distinguish between music as an act of worship and music as an aid to worship.
We make and offer art because we worship; we should not make it to lead us into worship. We can carry [this concept] into the weekly corporate gathering. Since Christians come to such gatherings as continuous worshipers, it should now be obvious that it is erroneous to assume that the arts, and especially music, are to be depended on to lead us to worship or that they are aids to worship or tools for worship. If we think this way, we fuel and stop, and worse, that music or some other artistic or human device bears the responsibility for doing the starting or the facilitating…Music and the arts have a kind of power in themselves that can be falsely related to or equated with Spirit power, so much so that the presence of God seems all the more guaranteed and the worshiper sees this union of artistic power and Spirit power as normal, even anticipated. This thinking lies behind comments of this kind: “the Lord seemed so near during worship time.” “Your music really helped me worship.” And to the contrary: “I could not worship because of the music.” Senior pastors, ministers of worship and worship teams must do everything to correct them. If we are not careful, music will be added to the list of sacraments and perhaps with some Christians become another kind of transubstantiation, turned into the Lord’s presence. Then the music, not the Holy Spirit, becomes the paraclete and advocate. God is reduced to god and music is raised to Music. Thrones are exchanged, lordship reverts to its fallen hierarchy, and conditioned reflex replaces faith. (p. 119)
In other words, music is never to be the ultimate means by which we worship God. Only Jesus, working through the Holy Spirit, can fulfill that role.
I had something “important” to say about this blog, but I think purpose would be just as well served if I let you know that the excerpt you took from Best is a truly counter-culture statement contrary to the views I have heard many times in church. Thank you for the information you have provided. It’s such a different view that I will need to read it a few more times. Thank You again.
I found this line troubling, “If we are not careful, music will be added to the list of sacraments and perhaps with some Christians become another kind of transubstantiation, turned into the Lord’s presence.” Seems like a cheap shot over the bow of the Vatican.
Worship is an expression of all that I am. There is no ‘spiritual’ verses ‘carnal’ element within me. I am a child of the covenant: I am in King Jesus. Deut 6:4,5 teaches me how to worship: Hear O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.
Music is what I am. It’s what I do. Only through the grace of God has my being experienced the renewing power of the Holy Spirit. All that I am belongs to the Father through Jesus my King. To create a dichotomy between worshiping God and how I express myself through music is akin to saying I do not need my body to worship. Though Rom 12:1 is clear my whole being is to be offered.
I appreciate the author’s exhortation to the discerning of spirits, and his attempt at a corrective to consumerism in our communities. However, is this the best way to communicate those goals?
By the way this is a fine site, and I love the way you honor our Lord and King.
Thanks for your thoughtful comment. I think Harold Best would agree with you that our music should be an expression of all that we are as we worship God.
I don’t read his comments as taking a “cheap shot over the bow of the Vatican.” Some believe that the elements in communion actually become the body and blood of Christ. While I don’t think transubstantiation is taught in Scripture, I’m even more certain that music can never communicate the actual presence of Christ to us. Rather it is meant to be an expression of hearts that are already exalting the Savior. It might draw us in emotionally so that we are better able to focus on the God we worship, but only the Spirit of God enables us to worship Him, with or without music.