More BJS Contributors with Respectful Disagreement – Magness and Simeon-Netto

(Editor’s Note: There is quite a lively discussion of the sale of KFUO over on Uwe Siemon Netto’s blog The Center for Lutheran Theology and Public Life between Uwe, who is a BJS advisory board member and Cantor Phillip Magness, regular contributor to the BJS Quarterly. This must be the day for BJS folks to respectfully disagree since we started the day out with Todd disagreeing with Mollie. We have recorded two of Phillip’s comments here. He makes some great points about the nature of evangelical worship which will help  all BJS members and readers to better understand authentic  Lutheran worship. For the entire discussion please see Uwe’s website.)

Post by Cantor Magness at 8:40 AM (edited) It is true, Luther did say, “”The Holy Spirit dignifies music as an implement for His ministry.” But music is not a means of grace. And I doubt Luther intended that sentence to be used out of context to suggest such a thing, as some in the LCMS have recently.

Yes, music is a TOOL of the Holy Spirit – but only when it is joined to His Word. One can expand this even to say that purely instrumental music accompanying the adminsitration of the Sacraments is also used by the Holy Spirit to call, gather, and enlighten, but it is simply not correct to assert that music-as-music is a means by which the Holy Spirit does His work. At best all music alone can do is soothe a deranged Saul. It does not enlighten with God’s gifts.

Luther elsewhere described music as a “handmaiden” of the Gospel, “second only to theology” in its usefulness. This is its correct use in the Church: to support and magnify the Word of God. Apart from that it has no power.

The idea that music “prepares ears” for the Word is the worship theology of American Evangelicalism. That’s why they “front load” the music in “contemporary worship”. I’ve been to their seminars, read their books, and know they teach this: music “clears the debris” of life away and “prepares the heart” so that then the Word can “do its work”. This is music-as-handmaiden-of-the-Holy-Spirit.

The Lutheran view is that music is handmaiden of the Gospel. It serves not so much the Third Person of the Trinity, but the Second.

This is why music is integral to our proclamation of the Word in the Divine Service. Sure, the Spirit works through the Word and so is present. So in that sense one can say music is a “tool of the Spirit”. The Paraclete uses music in His calling, gathering, and enlightening through the Word. But music does not spiritually enlighten in and of itself.

I’d like to think music would be so powerful – after all, I’m a professional musician! – but I can see music alone being the Spirit’s “tool” only inasmuch as a good steak might also be used by God. But that doesn’t mean the synod should have a butcher shop now, does it?

God Himself has chosen hidden and humble means for doing His work, and we should not make claims for Him that He Himself does not make.

 

Another post from Cantor Magness at 9:40 AM – The idea that music “prepares ears” for the Word is the worship theology of American Evangelicalism. That’s why they “front load” the music in “contemporary worship”. I’ve been to their seminars, read their books, and know they teach this: music “clears the debris” of life away and “prepares the heart” so that then the Word can “do its work”. This is music-as-handmaiden-of-the-Holy-Spirit.

The Lutheran view is that music is handmaiden of the Gospel. It serves not so much the Third Person of the Trinity, but the Second. This is why music is integral to our proclamation of the Word in the Divine Service. Sure, the Spirit works through the Word and so is present. So in that sense one can say music is a “tool of the Spirit”. The Paraclete uses music in His calling, gathering, and enlightening through the Word. But music does not spiritually enlighten in and of itself. I’d like to think music would be so powerful – after all, I’m a professional musician! – but I can see music alone being the Spirit’s “tool” only inasmuch as a good steak might also be used by God.

But that doesn’t mean the synod should have a butcher shop now, does it?

So, yes, God can do what He wills. I’m not setting a methodological limit on what He might do. But God Himself has chosen hidden and humble means for doing His work, and we should not make claims for Him that He Himself does not make.

By the way, the Japanese example is inspiring, but the music itself only inspired their INTEREST. The Holy Spirit then worked through the actual Gospel contained therein. This doesn’t happen at KFUO-FM, and, sadly, neither does such unveiling of the Gospel through great music happen in but a few of our congregations.

Kind Regards, in Christ,

Phillip

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