Brian Wansink of Cornell University is a Professor of Marketing with expertise in nutrition science. In a Sunday morning interview on public radio, Wansink said music has the power to make you eat more. He has tested his nutrition theories in restaurants and has found that it doesn’t matter what kind of music it is: all music has the power to make people eat up to 25% more food! Fast music had the power to make people eat faster and eat more and spend more money before the body signaled to stop. Slow music made people sit around long and enjoy more and spend more.
This is interesting because God has ordained music in the church, and He has ordained a particular kind of music. Following the Bible, Christians sing spiritual songs to teach and edify one another.
“Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” (Col 3:16)
God’s music is spiritual words, but not just noise. The influence of Christian music is the power of the message. It has the power to change by teaching and building up through the truth.
Churches of Christ do not use instruments in worship. This is different from denominations that don’t see a problem with them. The curious part of me wonders why instruments are so important to religious folks? Earlier this morning I was listening to something different on a religious radio station. The announcer/host of the morning show followed up the discussion with a prayer. While he prayed, soft background music accompanied. I wondered why and think I have the answer. Without the instruments in the background, the prayer isn’t interesting, it doesn’t keep the attention of the audience. To an entertainment hungry public, prayer without a piano is boring. And to these people, singing without accompaniment is boring. I notice that a lot of religious programs follow the same pattern as the radio prayer especially when the doctrinal lesson turns to the close and appeal. With the tinkling of the piano keys, the preacher makes a soft appeal: “Won’t you respond?” Is it is the appeal of a spiritual message or is it the power of the sensual music? I say it’s the instrument because try getting the same audience to attend and hear if the instrument was removed.
I have from time to time visited denominational services. I have witnessed a recurring pattern which they follow. Loud music is couple with simple, repititious lyrics. This pattern has been witnessed by me for 30 or so years. I saw it in East Texas. I saw it in Denver, Colorado. I saw it in Wray, Colorado. I saw it the town I presently live in. The congregants are on their feet for 30 to 45 minutes with clapping, swaying, and dancing to the loud music. Then when the heart rate is excelerated (it’s impossible that a physiological change has not occured), the body warm, and breathing altered by the singing and movement, the message becomes “do you feel the Spirit; the Spirit is here.” I have witnessed this pattern, and the words for myself, across the country from Texas, Colorado, to Minnesota. My impression was that it had little to do with the movement of the Holy Spirit and much to do with artificial stimulation.
In the Lord’s church, there are no pep rallies to get into the prayer or into the worship of God. We ought to shun any temptation to do more than sing in worship to God. Some churches are experimenting with adding clapping to the worship. This is a vain attempt to add music. Even the Sesame Street gang knows that clapping is music! In a children’s “play a sound” book where buttons are pushed to add sound effects to the reading, music was the subject of the book and clapping was the first kind to be introduced! Children and honest adults know that clapping to form a beat in worship is adding new music. The church should shun noise making with the lips and tongues to simulate drums, organs, horns, and guitars. These noises serve the same purpose and are back door approach to adding instruments.
The power of music in worship is not so much the sound. God said to sing (Eph. 5:19). God did not say the singing had to be expert. Every Christian is to sing. There is no judging. What makes Christian music so powerful is that it is an expression of the heart and soul and body of a spiritual person making melody to God. That is spiritual worship! But nonspiritual people do not get it and so they need to be artificially stimulated with the mindless noise of instrumental music. Without that, the music is just too boring. You may conclude that my analysis is subjective. But it is an objective fact that the New Testament church that you read of in the Bible did not use instruments: singing only was the practice for over 600 years. What did they understand that our modern, entertainment obsessed culture, does not?
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