Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Clothing, Music, & the Word of God

The arguments have sort of died down in the blogosphere, but I am sure they are not far from the minds of many pastors and church leaders. Several months ago, John MacArthur wrote a series of blog posts targeting the Young, Restless, & Reformed group, mainly taking aim at the young, hip, church planters. Many of the things he said in these posts were helpful and beneficial. Some of them were hurtful and not needed. I somewhat made a commitment to myself when all of it started that I was not going to get involved (as if anyone cared what I thought about it). I only made mention of it in a book review of Collin Hansen's, Young, Restless, & Reformed.

Last night I was making my way through Reverberation by Jonathan Leeman when I came across a few quotes that I thought were helpful to the discussion. I appreciated his balance on the issue of clothing, music, and the Word of God.
"Can we attract people with the right style of clothes? Of course. Can we cause them to feel rapturous emotions with modulated music? Yes. Can we elicit gratitude through acts of mercy? Again, yes. Can we win their approval with humor, and their affections with kindness? Indeed. Can we even cause them to be moral with the right combination of legal incentives and disincentives? Sure . . . But when we're dealing with changing a sinful nature, we're dealing with something categorically different. To borrow from Jeremiah, we're asking the leopard to change its spots (Jer. 13:23). To borrow from Jesus, we're asking a bad tree to bear good fruit or the thorn bush to bear figs (Luke 6:43-44). What humans need is not a change of mind about God, but a change of nature. They need to be born again, given spiritual sight, set free. Music can't do that. Style can't do that. Law and good deeds cannot do that. We need something not with natural power but something with divine power." (69)
"What's strange is, you can 'talk theology' with church leaders, and many will acknowledge everything I just said about our enslavement to sin and the depth of our problem as fallen sinners. But turn the conversation to local church practices, and that earlier conversation gets left behind. They begin to talk about reaching out with the right style of music, or dimming the lights to create the right worship effect. They readily adopt the devices of the marketing firm or the political campaign, even though such devices are utterly powerless to change the nature of the heart." (70)
I really appreciated these words. What they mean is that ripped jeans will not save a person any more than a nice tailored suit. Contemporary lighting and guitar riffs will do nothing more to move a person's heart from sin to Christ than a pipe organ. You may like one more than the other, but none of those will be the means by which someone gets saved. The heart will be changed only through the Word of God!

What do you think about these thoughts?

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