Carl Stam, over at SBTS, offers a weekly email ministry called Worship Quote of the Week. If you don’t subscribe at least put this gem in your favorites cause his archives are chock full of great quotes from the giants of the faith, past and present. This week’s quote on the foolishness of the “traditional vs. contemporary music” debate.
THE LIMELIGHT OF CHRISTIAN WORSHIP
Traditionalists have much to answer for in their reluctance to understand that tradition does not mean stasis but change. In their reaction against contemporary styles, they fail to understand that what they have gotten used to was once contemporary and often objectionable. Contemporists likewise fail to understand how blunted their tastes are when only “their music” seems to do the trick and when what they are doing has, ever so quickly, frozen itself into a tradition. So we end up with two kinds of shortsightedness, one supposedly old, the other supposedly new, and both wish fulfilling. The separation of worship into preference groups is everyone’s fault, in that narrow musical satisfaction has turned out to be more important than style-proof outpouring. I encourage people of all practices to become intently and intensely curious about each other’s ways.
The church desperately needs an artistic reformation that accomplishes two things at once: first, it takes music out of the limelight and puts Christ and his Word back into prominence; and second, it strives creatively for a synthesis of new, old and crosscultural styles. A deep understanding of the arts, coupled to the understanding that at best the music of corporate worship is simple, humble and variegated, would bring something about that would make all churches into worshiping and witnessing churches that happen to sing.
—Harold Best, UNCEASING WORSHIP: BIBLICAL PERSPECTIVES ON WORSHIP AND THE ARTS. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2003, p. 75. ISBN 0-8308-3229-7