What types of worship songs are biblically acceptable?


Clarify Share Report Asked August 03 2016 Mini Mike Thompson

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Open uri20130622 23898 8dsex Kelli Hamann Supporter Pastor's Wife, Mother, Grandmother, Teacher, Writer, Cellist
[Note: The original answer has been revised to change words that some found offensive.] 

I’m assuming that by “type” the question is referring to style or genre, and the short answer is this: Any type of worship song is acceptable if its main purpose is to foster growth and depth in Christ for those who sing along, and if it gives honor and glory to Jesus and the gospel. 

In John 4:24, Jesus gives us instructions about worship: “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” The “truth” part of this passage isn’t that hard to understand and follow, because we have the Bible to use as our standard. A worship song that somehow asserts falsehoods and contradicts biblical truth would not be acceptable. I can’t say that I’ve ever heard a worship song in church that actually opposes biblical truth, but I have noticed some songs tend to focus more on Jesus than others. 

The “worship in Spirit” part of Jesus’ instructions is where we tend to run into some problems. Most of us prefer some types of music over others, and we may even find certain genres objectionable, which can hinder us in a worship service. For example, I truly dislike country music, and I had a very difficult time visiting a church once that incorporated country music worship songs in their song set. The lyrics were all biblically sound and the songs pointed to Jesus, but I just couldn’t relate to the style to truly enjoy the worship and enter into it. My problem? My spirit wanted to worship, but my flesh wouldn’t let it.

This controversy about the acceptability or the appropriateness of worship songs seems to stem mainly from the perceptions people have about certain types of music. For example, hard rock is often associated with singers/musicians who are a bit “rough around the edges,” and for this reason, Christian artists in this genre are sometimes quickly dismissed and highly scrutinized. But how are we judging these artists? By the Spirit, or the flesh? 

When God sent Samuel to the home of Jesse to anoint one of Jesse's sons to be king, Samuel was about to choose the eldest brother when God said to him: 

"Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

If God looks at the heart of a person (including a singer/musician) and does not judge by his/her outward appearance, what right do we have to do so? Some people think hard rock is too extreme and boisterous to be counted as "true worship," but we find many extreme and boisterous forms of worship in the Bible. For example, David danced raucously “with all his might” wearing nothing but his undergarments when the Ark of the Covenant was brought back to Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6:16); but in another place, he also calmed Saul by playing “soothing” songs on his harp (1 Samuel 16:23). In the account of the battle of Jericho, the Israelites were given instructions to honor and obey the Lord by marching around the city walls in absolute silence, which was a form of worship; but then they were told to do the opposite on the last day, and they concluded their worship experience with shouting and declarations of victory (Joshua 6). 

Read through the Bible and you’ll find several acceptable, yet varied ways to worship: clapping, lifting hands, dancing, playing instruments, blowing horns, singing with all your might, quietly approaching the altar, kneeling, standing, shouting, shedding tears of joy, weeping with sorrow, and so on… If all of these extreme expressions of worship are approved in the Bible, how can we say such extremes aren’t acceptable in our modern worship songs? In my opinion, God has no problem with us exploring these extremes in various types of music as long as we commit to worship in Spirit and in truth, and as long as Jesus is receiving glory, not man

December 27 2016 7 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini Ray Fowler
Remember that the old law was done away with and the new instituted at the cross so you have to look only at the new law for our instructions in Christianity. And there we are told to sing songs and hymns and to make melody in our hearts to praise God and edify one another. Isa. 23:16 says to take a harp and make melody around the city (old law). In Amos 5:23 God said he would not listen to the melody of their harps because he was upset with Israel. But in Eph. 5:19 we are told to make melody with our hearts only not instrument but to sing and edify (teach others) with our songs. So they must be truthful, spiritually uplifting and pleasing to God.

December 30 2016 2 responses Vote Up Share Report

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