Measuring the Music: Another Look at the Contemporary Christian Music Debate, by John Makujina. Willow Street, PA: Old Paths Publications, repr. 2002. 369 pages. $16.99 (paper). [Reviewed by the editor.]
Measuring the Music is an important examination and convincing condemnation of “contemporary Christian music.”
Reformed young people especially need to be warned. But so do their parents, if they are to warn their children. So also do the churches, if they are to keep this corruption out of the lives of their young members and, by this evil day, out of their official, or semi-official, gatherings.
Justification, by Francis Turretin. Tr. George Musgrave Giger. Ed. James T. Dennison, Jr. Phillipsburg, New Jersey: P&R, 2004. Pp. xxvi + 115. $9.99 (paper). [Reviewed by the editor.]
This one hundred-page excerpt from Francis Turretin’s work of Reformed theology is timely. Unbelievably, Reformed and Presbyterian churches are being troubled by brazen attack on the truth of justification. To a large extent, the ministers and theologians either support the heretics or fail to give clear, sharp instruction on justification that will expose the heresy and help the troubled members of the congregations.
Francis Turretin, seventeenth century Swiss theologian and professor of theology at Calvin’s Academy in Geneva, gave clear, thorough, polemical instruction on the fundamental truth of justification.
Those directly involved in the life-and-death struggle with the current false gospel of justification by faith and the works of faith should read this short work. All Reformed Christians will profit from it. In a few places, the going gets heavy, but for the most part the layman will have no trouble understanding the language and following the arguments. The instruction is biblical.
The importance of the sound doctrine of justification, Turretin indicated at the outset.
Justification … must be handled with the greater care and accuracy as this saving doctrine is of the greatest importance in religion. It is called by Luther “the article of a standing and a falling church.” By other Christians, it is termed the characteristic and basis of Christianity—not without reason—the principal rampart of the Christian religion. This being adulterated or subverted, it is impossible to retain purity of doctrine in other places. Hence Satan in every way has endeavored to corrupt this doctrine in all ages, as has been done especially in the papacy (p. 1).
R.C. Sproul has a hard-hitting introduction to the book. He affirms the fundamental importance of justification by faith alone to the gospel as indicated in Luther’s assessment, “the article of a standing and a falling church.”
Without this doctrine the church falls; she collapses into ruin. She ceases to be a true church. Though every other article of historic Christian faith remains intact—if this one (sola fide [by faith alone]) is lost, the church is lost with it (p. vii).
One of the “serious questions” raised today regarding the Reformation’s doctrine of justification is that which Norman Shepherd taught for years at Westminster Theological Seminary.
The controversy at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia over theologian Norman Shepherd’s teaching regarding justification remains unresolved. The number of Shepherd’s followers has increased over the years since he was dismissed from Westminster (p. xiii).
The next-to-the-last chapter considers the question whether there is an eternal justification.
The last chapter explains the justification that takes place at the final judgment.
Why I Left the Contemporary Christian Music Movement: Confessions of a Former Worship Leader, by Dan Lucarini. Webster, MY: Evangelical Press, 2004. 141 pages. No price given (paper). [Reviewed by Prof. Robert D. Decker.]
Two matters by way of introduction to this review are in order: 1) This is a must read for anyone who is attracted to the Contemporary Christian Music Movement (CCM) and for anyone looking for reasons why the church must have nothing to do with this form of music in her worship and in her life. 2) The author was not only a worship leader for several evangelical churches, but was also a rock music performer, arranger, and composer.
The author contends convincingly that CCM is a “…man-made phenomenon…because it lacks a strong biblical foundation and ignores God’s instructions for acceptable worship” (p. 18). Further, CCM is founded on the principle that God will accept it. It is found in churches that tell people, “come as you are and we will accept you.” What these churches mean is, “come as you are and remain as you are.”
This, the author rightly argues, is not what God says to people. God commands the church to command people to repent from their sins. And repentance involves a radical turning away from our sins and turning to the service of God! We as Christians must flee worldliness and seek holiness.
The author’s definition of Jesus’ word in John 4:24, “in spirit and in truth,” is simplistic, but on the “right track.” Lucarini interprets Jesus’ word as being this: “worship is homage from the heart and regulated by God’s Word” (pp. 54-55).
Speaking from his own experience as one having been deeply involved in what he calls “the rock music lifestyle” (p. 29), Lucarini insists that CCM has it roots (especially as regards its beat and rhythm) in rock and roll. Because of this, CCM, as is true of rock and roll, appeals to our old fleshly natures of sin, particularly sexual immorality.
It is also a fact that CCM splits congregations. CCM is not a matter of personal preference and taste. It is sinful because of its roots and because it imitates worldly music and tempts brothers and sisters to stumble. Music in God’s world and church is not neutral. Music style and content, beat and rhythm, have a moral dimension. And rock is associated with sensual lusts, drugs, and rebellion against authority.
For these reasons especially, Dan Lucarini left the CCM movement. May God give us the grace to have nothing to do with it in our personal lives and in our churches.
The major weakness (there were also a number of annoying typographical errors) is that the book is written from an Arminian perspective.