In HOPE 5.30                                  back to home                        David Timms

Ministry Resource

Have you read Brother Lawrence's 1692 classic entitled The Practice of the Presence of God? Or tried to get hold of Frank Laubach's 1930-1932 Letters By a Modern Mystic? These extraordinary pieces of Christian literature are both available in a single volume from the Library of Spiritual Classics, entitled Practicing His Presence. The language is simple - the concepts are life-changing.       

HOPE Happenings

This past Tuesday night, Dr. Christopher Davis was officially installed into his role as the new Dean of the School of Professional Studies. We look forward to his leadership in this strategic area.

Hope International University
Fullerton, CA 92831


"If you saw a burning bush, would you a) call 911, b) get the hot dogs, or c) recognize God? A vanishingly small number of people would recognize God." (Mary Doria Russell, The Sparrow)

Sing It Again

Music is often a battleground in the church.

The tensions between traditional and contemporary music continue in many congregations. Some folk facetiously call the music department "the devil's playground." Traditionalists often dislike the "inane repetition," the "shallow lyrics," and the "secular beat" of contemporary music. Contemporalists find much hymnology tedious and irrelevant.

Feelings rise high and conflict develops.

But often the clash is not really about preferred musical styles, though we may try to reduce it to such. A deeper issue may underlie our differences, whether we have identified it or not. What motivates many of us, and makes us almost incorrigible, is our view of the purpose of music.

Some folk see music as simply a teaching tool. They study the words for theological content and accuracy. Music is about message. Lyrical substance is everything. This attitude views music as the packaging, not as the gift itself.

Such analytical approaches to art and music are rarely satisfied. It begs the question, "Why sing at all?" We might more easily (and with much less conflict) speak rather than sing. Congregational responses rather than congregational singing would be simpler and safer.

But music is not primarily about message. As Eugene Peterson notes: "Song is heightened speech [not in the sense of more words or louder words, but heightened in function]. Song does not explain, it expresses. Song is more than words ... and is one of the two ways (silence is the other, ironically) of giving witness to the transcendent."

This special gift we call music is not merely another way to speak, but a transcendent gift to experience; not just a means to communicate, but a way to connect.

The medium of music is more about mystery than message. Its essence is not to teach the head but to touch the heart. And where the spoken word instructs, the sung word transports and elevates. Such is this divine gift. And it has always functioned this way.

Perhaps musical preferences are less central than musical ideologies . We might find more common ground if we realized that music plays a vastly different role from preaching and teaching, as it lifts us into the presence of God in ways that the spoken word cannot ... ways that He has ordained.  Sing it again!



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David Timms serves in the Graduate Ministry Department at Hope International University in Fullerton, California. "In HOPE", however, is not an official publication of the University and the views expressed are not necessarily those of the Administrators or Board of the institution. "In HOPE" has been a regular e-publication since January, 2001.

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