Monday, March 03, 2008

Sensuous Delights of Sound and Sight

"Our Savior did not use any means which might enlist man's lower nature on his side. When I have heard of large congregations gathered together by the music of a fine choir, I have remembered that the same thing is done at the opera house and the music-hall, and I have felt no joy. When we have heard of crowds enchanted by the sublime music of the pealing organ, I have seen in the fact rather a glorification of St. Cecilia than of Jesus Christ. Our Lord trusted in no measure or degree to the charms of music for the establishing his throne. He has not given to his disciples the slightest intimation that they are to employ the attractions of the concert room to promote the kingdom of heaven.

I find no rubric in Scripture commanding Paul to clothe himself in robes of blue, scarlet, or violet; neither do I find Peter commanded to wear a surplice, an alb, or a chasuble. The Holy Spirit has not cared even to hint at a surpliced choir, or at banners, processions, and processional hymns. Now, if our Lord had arranged a religion of fine shows, and pompous ceremonies, and gorgeous architecture, and enchanting, music, and bewitching incense, and the like, we could have comprehended its growth; but he is "a root out of a dry ground", for he owes nothing to any of these.

Christianity has been infinitely hindered by the musical, the aesthetic, and the ceremonial devices of men, but it has never been advantaged by them, no, not a jot. The sensuous delights of sound and sight have always been enlisted on the side of error, but Christ has employed nobler and more spiritual agencies. Things which fascinate the senses are left to be the chosen instruments of Antichrist, but the gospel, disdaining Saul's armor, goes forth in the natural simplicity of its own might, like David, with sling and stone. Our holy religion owes nothing whatever to any carnal means; so far as they are concerned, it is "a root out of a dry ground".

-- Charles Spurgeon, A Root Out of Dry Ground, 1872


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder if this guy ever played a musical instrument or had any instruments in his church service. I imagine he probably enjoyed a lot of Bach.

While it's true that men misuse the arts in their worship of and service to God, it is equally true that God used -- indeed, in the OT, commanded -- the arts, and music in particular. to accomplish His work. Israel even had singers in their army incursions.

This kind of talk without proper frame of reference can create a form of asceticism that is as unbiblical as the wordly/fleshly ways this message condemns. I know because I used to practice it: in an attempt to be separate and distinct from the world, it became extreme and, naturally, superficially pious. It caused me to become judgmental of others over things that were not that important. It did not take into account Romans 14 and 15 -- it was just spiritual pride, as I look back. Thank God for the OT, where I saw the care and attention to detail that God paid in the construction and maintenance of the tabernacle and the temple. Yes, it's the truth that sets us free.

11:41 PM  

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