We don’t hold to the doctrine of biblical music

The other night I ran into a pastor friend whom I hadn’t seen for some time. He asked about the church plant in Philly and I suggested he check out our web site. I knew his church has sensitivities which would preclude support and never sought support from the church. Later that day he sent an email telling me that his church could not cooperate with what we are doing since he holds to the doctrine of biblical music.  I did a double take. Doctrine of biblical music? I know the Bible says a great deal about music but wasn’t aware there was THE doctrine of biblical music. I don’t know if it was the guitars or djembe but after going on our web site and seeing some YouTube clips he determined that we don't hold to right doctrine of biblical music.  


My response to him was that I have not found this imagined doctrine of biblical music in the Bible and am disappointed that churches major on peripherals rather than the gospel.  We hold to the fundamentals of the faith but we don’t hold to a certain doctrine of biblical music. He really is my friend, a great brother in the Lord who I love. I wish we could work together but in his mind we can’t as long as we don’t get the music thing right. How sad that this issue continues to divide God’s people! I won't separate from those who think they have discovered the doctrine of biblical music. I won't separate if they use only traditional music and think that everyone else must share their convictions/preferences. Neither will I surrender to their pretensions of determining the correct doctrine of biblical music for others. Even or especially if they are my friends.

5 Responses to “We don’t hold to the doctrine of biblical music”

  1. WHAT?!?!?!?!
    And i suppose you don't hold fast to the "doctrine of proper tie length" either!

  2. I remember having the same 'convictions' as your friend before my journey into a more gospel-centered Christianity. I also remember having a passionate conversation with a brother of mine who struggled with my 'lack of conviction on biblical music. 🙂 What a wonderful journey this is as we seek to maximize the gospel and minimize the 'personal convictions' that often divide God's people. I am glad for the patience and love toward me of those who were ahead of me on this journey and hope to be able, as you have graciously done, to continue to love those who don't agree.

  3. Ross: I understand the mentality. As John pointed out many of us have been there in the journey.  I hope to be as gracious toward them as others were to me. And my friend was gracious and not at all mean-spirited. I don't have any problem with pastors and churches that decide for themselves what music they will use. But when it becomes a cooperation/separation issue because they disapprove of others' choices then it has surely gone too far.

  4. Steve,
    Curious on what basis it would acceptable to identify music as good/bad for an individual church but wrong to use this standard in dealings among churches?

  5. Chip:
    I do think there are biblical principles that both churches and individuals should apply. Problems arise when we expect others to apply them in the same way. We know what’s best not only for ourselves but also for others. We have musical experts who have special knowledge in this area. Most of the arguments are more cultural than biblical and in captivity to forms of Western cultural Christianity. Much of the issue revolves around style, instrumentation, etc. Often it becomes a traditional/contemporary debate rather than concerned with the substance of the music and message.

    In our church services we use what many would consider traditional hymns and contemporary pieces. The selections are made to follow our liturgy – praise, confession, thanksgiving, proclamation, invitation, celebration, etc. For that it may be music associated with Wesley, Luther, Third Day or David Crowder. We care little about appearing traditional or contemporary and have no desire to be avant-garde or entertaining. We want to use music that recognizes the majesty of God, clearly points to Christ and the gospel as our only hope, and expresses heartfelt gratitude for redemption, both now and future. I wrote on this some time ago. The article can be found here.

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