Editorial: When We Come Together
The apostle Paul wrote his first let to the church in Corinth in large part to give them instructions regarding what they should do “when you come together” (1 Cor 11:17). The corporate gatherings of churches are essential to the lives of believers because of what takes place “when we come together”—the preaching and teaching of God’s Word, singing, prayer, fellowship, baptism, and the Lord’s Supper. Each of these ordinances of corporate worship are essential in fulfilling our commission to “make disciples of all nations” (Matt 28:19), which is why Paul discusses each in detail in 1 Corinthians and others of his letters.
A Call for Ecclesiological Renewal: Paige Patterson’s Theology of the Ordinances
This article will use Patterson’s published writings and sermons to examine his understanding of the ordinances. The article will examine Patterson’s emphasis on the need for Southern Baptists to recover the historic Baptist understanding of the ordinances and their connection to a regenerate church membership and proper church discipline. For Patterson, church membership and baptism are interrelated, and church discipline is to take place at the Lord’s Table. Thus, while the focus of this article is the ordinances, it will also examine these accompanying issues and their connection to the ordinances in Patterson’s theology. Special attention will be given to his emphasis on sanctification as portrayed in the ordinances.
Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs: Assessing the Debate
The New Testament contains very little explicit information concerning singing in Christian churches, and yet debate about what kind of songs may be sung in worship is perhaps one of the most controversial matters facing churches today. For this reason, participants on all sides of contemporary worship debates look to two parallel NT passages as fodder for their views: Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16. Of particular note in interpretations of these passages are the three musical terms Paul employs: ψαλμοῖς (psalmois), ὕμνοις (hymnois), and ᾠδαῖς (ōdais). What these terms exactly mean has been a matter of disagreement since the church fathers, and worship warriors frequently use dogmatic, and often unsupported, assertions concerning their meaning to defend their arguments.
The purpose of this paper is to examine popular and scholarly discussions of the terms in these passages to determine, if possible, their exact meaning and what implications for contemporary practice may be drawn therefrom. The grammatical construction of the phrases in both Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16 are nearly identical, and thus I will treat discussions of the meaning of these terms without distinction between the two appearances. I will survey only recent treatments of these texts for two reasons. First, recent discussions will reflect the most current scholarship in biblical studies. Second, contemporary scholars will take into account and interact with any relevant older scholarship, so there is little need to specifically explore the older treatments. By examining the arguments for the predominant views of the meaning of these terms, I will show that ψαλμοῖς, ὕμνοις, and ᾠδαῖς in Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16 should not be taken as clearly defined categories of congregational song but should rather be seen as overlapping near synonyms.
The Almost-Reformation of Music and Worship in the Southern Baptist Convention, 1926–1946
The period from 1926 through 1946 was a time of organization and standardization for many organizations and societal structures including the Southern Baptist Convention. Encompassing both the Great Depression and World War II, the sociopolitical undercurrents of the age reached into every area of life, including the worship of the church. The music of Southern Baptist churches was, at this time, fragmented with individual churches independently setting their own music and worship priorities. The national and state conventions left music and worship priorities to the churches of the Convention, but concern was growing about the state of music and worship among those in key leadership positions in both the Convention and its seminaries.
Worship practice in the churches of the Convention was problematic for key leaders, particularly among the School of Sacred Music faculty at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth. This concern among Southwestern faculty, especially the department chair I. E. Reynolds, resulted in the school changing its priorities for education and its name from the School of Gospel Music to the School of Sacred Music in the year 1926. That same year, Reynolds made a plea at the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting in Houston, Texas, urging the Convention to establish a Church Music Department “for the purpose of improving the musical conditions in the church.” This article will trace the developments in music and worship of Southern Baptist Churches and at the convention level over the twenty year period from the time Reynolds introduced his motion to the Convention in 1926 until the end of World War II when the direction of church music and worship in the Southern Baptist Convention was mostly settled. The relationship and philosophies of I. E. Reynolds and B. B. McKinney will serve as the frame for this exploration with McKinney advocating for the popular gospel song of the day and Reynolds seeking what he considered a more noble church music. The arc of their friendship closely parallels the fight for a reformation in the church’s song staged on a national level during this period.
Created to Worship: The Practice of Devotional Listening and Christian Contemporary Music
Over the past fifty years, American Protestant churches have witnessed a significant shift in sacred music. Christian contemporary music (hereafter CCM), a blend of rock and pop with religious lyrics, became a familiar presence both on the radio and in the church. While many excellent studies have detailed the musical and lyrical characteristics of CCM as well as the features of its history, theology, liturgical use, and industry practices, few studies have explored the role of CCM in the daily lives of listeners.
This study begins to fill that gap, to understand how listeners are using CCM and the role they ascribe to devotional listening. To do so, I draw from focus-group interviews at four churches. In these interviews both laity and clergy were asked about their personal religious music listening habits outside of church.
The answers given reveal that music is a powerful force in listeners’ religious lives. By listening in the background of daily life, they create an atmosphere that shapes their emotions and reinforces their faith. They find greater ease in their attempts to engage in other devotional practices and in their experience of God. I find that underlying this practice of devotional listening is the respondents’ conception that music was uniquely created by God to be a tool for spiritual engagement. In these congregations, being created to worship means also being created to sing.
Abstracts of Recent SWBTS School of Church Music Doctoral Dissertations
“A Theoretical Analysis of Psalm 84 for Soprano and Orchestra” by Desmond C. Ikegwuonu, DMA
“Can a Woman be a Music Minister? Bridging the Gap Between Complementarian Theology and Philosophies of Music Ministry” by Jessica Jane Wan, PhD