Preserving the Truth Almost-Live Blog (Friday, Jan 7)

by Jan 8, 2011ChurchLife, Music, Theology4 comments

Instead of writing the last few pages of my dissertation, I’m at the Preserving the Truth Conference at First Baptist Church of Troy. Here are my notes from last night:

Breakout Sessions

Scott Aniol argued this, if I could boil it down: we can’t have a-cultural church music; we’re going to get our music from somewhere. So why would we choose music that is a pagan cultural expression of pagans to pagans? Culture is an expression of a complex set of values. Why not choose the music nurtured by centuries in a, broadly speaking, Christian culture? The Western tradition may not have been developed solely by regenerated people, but it grew in a culture constrained by transcendent values consistent with biblical values.

My brief evaluation: Scott is picking up wise footnotes and sharpening a message he’s been giving for a good while. I found this to be a genuine help to me, at least in understanding Scott—but more so in answering a question I’ve had: “If music is partially culturally relative—that is, appropriate church music in Botswana will sound different from that of Kazakhstan—then how do you select which music in our culture is appropriate for worship?” Scott was forthright about his violation of political correctness: he thinks Western music is likely a better starting place even for Botswanans and Kazaks than indigenous music—if that music is so shaped by paganism that it is not a fit vessel for gospel truth. Scott was focusing almost his whole time on reading our (John Frame alert) situation and not parsing biblical norms or people’s motivations. This is a valuable service, but I’m going to have to let this simmer for a good while.

Mike Riley argued this, if I could boil it down: Fundamentalism intuitively gets a truth that Van Til argued for with lengthy verbiage, a truth that evangelicals don’t get: the antithesis. Out of the abundance of a Westminster apologetics PhD’s heart Mike spoke, giving an energetic primer on presuppositionalism and connecting it (effectively, I thought) in a few places to the fundamentalist idea. Fundamentalists understand that light has no fellowship with darkness.

Plenary Sessions

Chris Anderson argued this, if I could boil it down: Jude wanted to write about the gospel, but he had to write about contending for the faith. We ought to delight in the gospel. Separatism shouldn’t get more red-meat amens in our churches than the gospel does. Even Jude ends his epistle about contending for the faith with an exhortation to build ourselves up in it. Churches that delight in the gospel are God’s way of defending His people. We have a sword in one hand, yes, but the well-built wall is the best defense.

Mark Minnick argued this, if I could boil it down: the gospel deals with who Jesus was (God and man), what He said, and what He did. And the most central passage defining the gospel is Romans 3:21-26. My pastor preached with passion and eloquence.

I’ve enjoyed my time here, seen some beloved friends, and had some good fellowship. I’ll post some more notes in a bit, Lord willing.

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  1. Ryan

    thanks for posting updates.

  2. Javier Caballero

    Thank you for posting this information. It helps me with some of the questions I have had as well.
    On the issue of music in a cross cultural environment: I have been thinking about this issue for some time given that I was thrust into a unique situation when I firs arrived at Greenville. There are some ethnic churches in our area that focus on promoting their own culture within the context of the American culture. In some ways they attempt to isolate their worship experience from the rest of the culture around them. With this said, a line was drawn in the area of music and the group that wanted to allow more conservative American style of hymns seems to be gaining influence. I found that the immediate cultural influences in this particular group began to refine their own culture. The result was that the songs they once sung in worship which were influenced by values which the Bible promotes remained while other songs are beginning to be less appreciated. This could be the result of an increased appreciation for better music. It could also be the process of maturing Christians making better decisions regarding their worship. I think the key to dealing with this issue is recognizing that fallen men are still created in God’s image. Every culture has some trace of its expression of that image in its arts. That is what Christians should celebrate.

  3. Todd Jones

    Thanks for this, Mark. Wish I could have been there–sounds very helpful.

  4. Todd Wood

    Thanks for the short summaries.