John MacArthur: On “The Biggest Problem with Contemporary Church Music?”
“Style or Substance?”
What’s the Biggest Problem with Contemporary Church Music?
It should be clear to anyone who examines the subject carefully that modern church music, as a rule, is vastly inferior to the classic hymns that were being written 200 years ago.And incidentally, my own assessment is that the style in which music is written today isn’t really the biggest problem with contemporary music. Styles change. Bad church music isn’t bad just because it is “contemporary.” But the content of the lyrics is what reveals most graphically how low our standards have slipped.This is not a problem that arose with the current generation. It dates back to an era whose musical style would seem quite old-fashioned by anyone’s standards today.Before the middle part of the 19th century or so, hymns were wonderful didactic tools, filled with Scripture and sound doctrine, a medium for teaching and admonishing one another, as we are commanded in Colossians 3:16. Most hymns were written not by teenagers with guitars, but by pastors and theologians: Charles Wesley, Augustus Toplady, Isaac Watts.Consider the profound content of this hymn about God’s attributes, written by Walter C. Smith in the 1800s. . .[continue reading]