A Reply Relative to “Untalented Singers”

The Standard Bearer article, “God’s Holiness” (Nov. 1, 1983, Vol. LX, No. 3), meets with a fine, positive response from a young Protestant Reformed college student who principally agrees with the content and thrust of the article but takes exception to the word “untalented” (see front cover and p. 61) as not applicable to today’s popular “singers,” adding that it should be recognized as modern “music theorists tell us . . . these ‘singers’ are very talented,” only they have debased their God-given gifts to the service of sin. Further, it was urged that we do not take God’s gifts for granted. For this good counsel we are grateful. 

We appreciate this Reformed line of positive criticism. This brings to mind that music and musical instruments originally came from the non-covenant line of the godless Lamech (Gen. 4:21). God had given them the ability to invent these instruments and, as Funk and Wagnalls Dictionary defines the word talent, He gave them the “natural gift” or “natural endowment of eminent ability” to produce classical music. But they proceeded to prostitute these talents to the service of the devil. The talented, says the dictionary, possess skill, genius, have marked mental ability and uncommon aptitude. A great Christian philologist well said, “men may choose to forget the ends for which their talents were given them . . . they may practically deny that they were given at all; yet in this word. . . abides a continual memento that they were so given . . . and that each man shall have to render an account of their use.” (Trench, On the Study of Words, lect. iii, p. 93, 1883, F. & W. Die.). The very word talented, used negatively in the article referred to, had been “denounced by Coleridge as ‘that vile and barbarous vocable,’ ” yet is “nevertheless correctly formed according to analogy of such words as booted, cloistered, horned, ivied, sceptred, slippered, venomed, and numerous others.” 

Therefore, instead of saying “they are an untalented screaming mob,” it might better have been written, “are a mis-talented (mis = wrong) mob” or “they are a screaming mob belching out talentless trash, not worth three minutes of audition time.” Then it would not be saying that they have no talent but that their trashyproductions evidence a notable absence of talent (Romans 1:18 shows why). As the psalmist (Ps. 59:6-7a) put it, “at evening they make a noise like a dog . . . they belch out” of their mouth such senseless and “barbarous vocables” as “bow-wow-wow-wow!” 

These purveyors of “Rock” filth, we agree, practice for many hours prior to their performances. This recalls the old saying, “Practice makes perfect,” not a very scientific statement, for all too often we keep practicing our mistakes, over and over. Then practice becomes a continual rehearsal of imperfection. Still, one wonders how much practice it takes to produce a silly “bow-wow!” Naughty children do this sort of thing all the time, without thinking and with no practice whatever. 

God indeed has naturally endowed men with certain natural skills and aptitudes, with brains, and a certain ability to use them. So that they not only have knowledge but a certain kind of wisdom, yet withal not a shred of grace. But the natural man rejects the idea that these good gifts are God-given and refuses to use them to God’s glory, using them in the service of the devil, so that their “wisdom” is not from above, but is this-worldly (I Cor. 3:18), natural (I Cor. 2:14), hostile (Rom. 8:7) and demonic (Acts 13:10). Cp. Jas. 3:15. They also have a talent for getting wealthy. Their performances do no public service, but project and advocate destruction. Yet in their own private lives they make sure that theyprotect their own financial security! They get rich making boobs of their devotees. To this mis-use of their talents to their own condemnation will be added the final judgment where they will not be able to forget Who gave them their gifts, nor the end for which they were given—the glory of God! And that final accounting day for them is near. Finally, who would disagree with ex-Rock king Little Richard, for saying, “Some music will keep you out of God’s kingdom!” But again, we give thanks to God for Reformed young people who “think Reformed!”

—RCH.