GORDON: I think this is a conscience issue. The last thing we want to do is sing heresy back to the Lord. The last thing we want to do is sing falsehood. We should have a measure of trust in our leadership to oversee the music that is being sung. The problem today is that typically, the worship team makes the decision on what to sing. Sometimes the pastor might be involved, but often there are no checks at all regarding music choice. That can be incredibly harmful to the congregation.
In the church order of the United Reformed Churches, we are to sing principally the Psalms.
GODFREY: “Principally” means probably more than 40% of the time.
GORDON: Along with the Psalms, we sing hymns that are approved by the consistory. Personally, I could not sing error back to the Lord. The difficult part is that when you’re singing and the music is right in front of you, you have to process, “What am I saying?” That comes with issues of trust in the leadership.
My approach would be to talk to the leadership, especially if there is a statement of faith, and be a good Berean regarding the music you sing. Is it in accord with Scripture? Is it truth? Kindly express your concerns to your leadership such that they oversee music in a way that is helpful to the entire congregation. This question exposes what often happens in modern worship: there is no oversight of what is being done.
GODFREY: I remember attending a theology conference (not a Ligonier conference) many years ago. It was about the importance of having your theology straight. One of the songs we sang had the refrain, “Father, You are God alone, and we know You through Your Son.” I said: “That’s pure Arianism. That’s a denial of the divinity of the Son. If the Father is God alone, then the Son can’t be God.” As a matter of conscience, I couldn’t sing that song.
By and large, we should trust the leadership of our churches unless there is an overwhelming reason to refuse to follow them, like if they’re asking you to sing heresy. At the same time, it is striking to me that when Paul and Peter wrote to churches, they assumed every individual Christian had a responsibility to listen to the letter, believe it, and follow it. We all have a responsibility. We can’t just hand our responsibility to someone else.
This is a transcript of Christopher Gordon’s and W. Robert Godfrey’s answers given during our If the Foundations Are Destroyed: Escondido 2022 Conference and has been lightly edited for readability. To ask Ligonier a biblical or theological question, email email@example.com or message us on Facebook or Twitter.