Praxis Advocates
Praxis Advocates





Praxis Advocates
Musical Contrarian

The IJFM article by Gary Corwin are responses to Gary by Rick Brown.

Welcome to this first issue of music contrarian and ethnic musicology.

Are you a "binary worshipper?" Binary usually refers to zeros and ones of the digital age. And a binary worshiper is equally black and white over what really constitutes good and acceptable worship. Welcome to the world of worship and music that may challenge your life.

Many factors account for the growth of Muslims following Jesus in North Africa, including worship music in North African dialects, one source of strength for area churches.

Gary Corwin, in his article, "The Jerusalem Council Applied.. A Humble Appeal..." writes on the theology and background of varied music and worship. I highly recommend his article that I wish to cite, in part, below, in a sort of article review.

Rejection of other expressions of faith and worship.

Corwin writes, "Binary thinkers perceive complex issues as simple holistic issues. They also evaluate them using a binary opposition: good or bad, true or false, all or nothing. For such people, the option is either to be a Muslim in every way or not at all. The binary opposition leads to a rejection of diversity as well, because for binary thinkers only one way/church/race/culture/viewpoint can be right, and all the others must be wrong. This leads to rejection of other expressions of faith and worship. It also leads to rejection of diversity in Bible translations, with one translation being perceived as "perfect" and the others as "wrong" or even "evil."

Our liturgy, officiated by a priest, comes from Messianic Greco-Romans.

Gary Corwin makes us reflect on the heritage of Gentiles who came to Christ in the early church. "Far from following the worship customs of the Jewish disciples, these Messianic Gentiles adopted a traditional Greco-Roman form of worship, the leitourgia "liturgy", officiated by a priest or the like; they worshipped on Sunday instead of the Sabbath; and they ignored the Old Testament festivals while maintaining their Winter Solstice festival as a celebration of Christ's birth. With time, these Messianic Greco-Roman practices came to be seen as normative, although they are not taught in the Bible.

We cannot separate people from their culture; we must love them enough to respect it. We let churches be born within the culture. We use the musical style of the local culture, their own means of communication and forms of organization. This way the people see the movement as their own and not as a foreign religion. The high profile church leaders must not be 'outsiders'.

Which music style should we introduce to a new church plant, none?

Worship in the New Testament had as its center the Lord's Supper (Acts 2:42, 46; 10:7). Wise church planters do not introduce Western music in another culture; it attracts mainly young people and brands the church as foreign. Let nationals use their own music, poetry and other art forms. Is your worship from the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s or the 1700s? Do hymns, yes, but investigate the new too. Remember that your new converts to Christ will have to be converted to old music, if that is what you have.

Do we need to convert the youth, the Muslim, or the outsider to our music style?

Amos 9:12, as cited and interpreted in Acts 15:16ff, prophesies that there will be "Gentiles" who are called by God's name and included in the Kingdom. The significance drawn is that they will be in this blessed state while still being "Gentiles" rather than being (Jewish) proselytes, ie, that proselytism is not necessary. So they were accepted as Messianic Gentiles, or to use the Greek term, as Christianoi, or Christians.

Music and celebration draws a response or "forcing function." Check out Luke 15.

"But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him."The son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. But the father said to his servants, 'Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found. So they began to celebrate. Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 'Your brother has come,' he replied, 'and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound'.

Muslim Insider Movements, or indigenous Muslim Jesus followers and music.

Muslim converts may feel that music is too frivolous for serious worship, and where informers might hear and report it to hostile authorities. We must establish culturally appropriate worship forms (eg: contextualization of Lord's supper, music, etc.) In traditionally "Christian" communities it can be difficult to distinguish true disciples from nominal Christians and others, but this is not the case within insider movements. The disciples make no pretense of being ordinary Muslims. They stand out as the ones who talk about the Lord Jesus and who meet together in jamats to worship God and study his Word. They are known to have been baptized, and they are known as the ones whose prayers are answered. The word jamatkhana means communal house or communal gathering place.

Can worship be a form of idolatry?

"First, what is idolatry? Idolatry takes at least two forms. One is what I will call "ontological idolatry," the very literal worship of a being, a divinity that is not the true God, the True Divine Being (hence my term, ontological). The other is the "functional idolatry" that elevates any object, goal, agenda, or desire to such a level of importance in one's life that it becomes, in effect, a "god" (so, Paul refers to greed as idolatry in Ephesians 5:5).

Rather than imposing Jewish worship onto the Gentiles, note that the Gentiles were not required to visit the temple or synagogue, attend the feasts, make the various sacrifices, or even be circumcised. So the Gentiles worshiped God in their own fashion. That sounds like some kind of religious contextualization. One has to wonder how the Apostles could set aside the law of Moses like that. The answer, of course, is Jesus.

An added hint. For small group worship, we aim at total participation rather than perfection in the music and teaching. We do not aim at entertainment, but edification (building up everyone present).