Dr. Peter Masters' False Separation of the Body from the Mind in Worship
We are told NEVER to be under the power of anything. This is an important principle, and this CONDEMNS most modern worship forms. The Apostle Paul makes this absolutely clear: "I will not be brought under the power of any"- not alcohol, not drugs, not rhythm, rhythm, rhythm, rhythm, thumping out multiple instrumentation. These are drug-friends, to get people into what they want- an altered state of consciousness for the time being- making an impact upon the body so that joy and excitement- it's sensational, it's bodily, it's fleshly- massive volumes of sound. Let alone the culture, the style, the very volume, and the rhythmic nature of it- that's what it's designed for, that's its clever intention, that's what people want- whether you do it with alcohol, or with drugs, or to get into the big pop concert and let it get right into you and feel it: a state of ecstasy, as it were. And that is being brought into worship; when your mind should be crystal clear, when you should embrace and understand- the mind is the palace of faith- wonderful sentiments, wonderful things about the Lord. No wonder (isn't it interesting) that contemporary Christian worship wants to simplify all the words of worship too and sing endless, repetitive, simple choruses, and so on. EVERYTHING is a dumbing down, because you've yielded yourself under the power of what the world does for pleasure, for sensual pleasure, and for impact on the body. WE lead with the mind- we love Him, we appreciate the doctrines, we direct our thoughts- worship is words. Worship is words- whether sung, whether said, whether thought- and we've permitted music, simply used, to keep us together, and to suggest, if you like, the mood of the words, and to wind those words heavenward. WE get our principles from the Scripture; THEY DO NOT. Many of them are good Christian people who've been fooled into adopting all this. We're never to be friends of the world, never to be under the power of anything of this sort. (Dr. Peter Masters, Morning Teaching Service, 21 June 2009)
As clear from his above statements Dr. Peter Masters believes that the use of rhythm and volume in music is a sin. What command can he point to back his position? The only biblical proof that he can offer is a citation of 1 Corinthians 6:12- "I will not be brought under the power of any" ("brought under the power of" is better translated "mastered by" or "enslaved by," as in the NASB, ESV, and NIV). But does the use of any rhythm necessarily lead to enslavement? Dr. Masters allows for the use of music "to suggest... the mood of the words." If the "mood of the words" is celebration over the resurrection or if the words are about 'dancing before the Lord,' as some biblical texts mention, then might not rhythm and volume be appropriate? The answer is, 'yes,' as demonstrated below.
Dr. Masters' critique seems to be less based on any Scripture and more based on some kind of wrong-headed philosophy in which anything to do with the body is viewed with suspicion. Dr. Masters literally sneers at music that has an "impact on the body." (Upon hearing the sermon I've quoted from above, my wife wondered if Dr. Masters would be upset if a person was moved to tears over a classic Christian hymn- I suspect that he would not, but her question is legitimate if one takes his words at face value.) Though much of Reformed worship has separated mind and body- the worshipers stand very still, with eyes turned down to a page, singing joyous truths in somber tones- worship in the Bible is different. For example: Psalm 63:4 and Psalm 134:2 teach that we should raise our hands in song; Psalm 47:1 and Psalm 97:8 teach that we should clap [quoted from HERE]; Psalm 149:3 speaks of dancing and playing percussive instruments (!) in worship; and, of course, there is Psalm 150, which will be examined in posts later this week.
Is it true that some contemporary worship music is 'dumbed down,' using rhythm and volume to make up for lack of content? Certainly. But the Reformed ministers criticized by Dr. Masters in his earlier article are aware of this problem, and are actively engaged in combat against it.
As C.J. Mahaney writes in The Cross Centered Life:
Not all worship songs are created equal. Many today are man centered, not cross centered. They focus more on what we need, or what we want God to do, than on what Jesus has already done.
I have to admit I'm spoiled when it comes to great cross centered worship songs. Some of my friends are very gifted songwriters who create incredible, contemporary worship songs that are filled with the gospel. (You can find out more about these songs and albums at www.sovereigngraceministries.org.)
Whereas the Sovereign Grace churches have benefited and continue to benefit from the classic hymns preferred by Dr. Masters, Dr. Masters has done himself a great disservice by snubbing contemporary gospel centered hymnology simply because the music accompanying these hymns employs rhythm.
Labels: Reformation Theology