Monday, March 15, 2010

Things Worth Listening To

Here is a good message on preaching from Matt Chandler. I am not an expert on preaching and not totally in love with Chandler’s preaching, but I am challenged by this good reminder on the necessity of faithful heralding. (As with everything, spit out the bones. I don’t endorse or recommend everything Chandler says or everyone he hangs around with.)

Here are some free recordings of Bach’s organ works. I am not an expert on Bach’s organ works and not totally in love with organ music (since I prefer a full orchestra), but there is a lot of stuff here will perhaps provide some enjoyable listening for some, as it has for me. (There are no bones in this one. I do endorse Bach’s organ music without reservation.)


Anonymous said...

But do you recommend everything Bach ever said or everyone he hung around with?

He was a confessional Lutheran of the non-pietist sort, and he was certainly no dispensationalist. His music is a beautiful expression of his theology, so I'm glad to see you have no reservations about him.


michelle said...


How is Bach's organ music an expression of Bach's theology? Please explain. I've been in the sacred and classical music world for years including a degree in music from a God-fearing university and this is the first I've ever heard this. Please enlighten me.

Thank you,

Larry said...

Having never heard Bach or looked at his friends list, I can't comment on that.

Theology is a propositional thing that is not really expressible through music, per se. Music can be consistent with theology or contrary to it to one degree or another, but it doesn't really express it in any meaningful sense. No one listens to Bach and becomes a Trinitarian, or a Lutheran, or even a monotheist.

But take heart, Bach was no dispensationalist but he is today.

Anonymous said...

Michelle and Larry,

I'm either totally misunderstanding you, or you're pulling my leg. Sorry to be so thick, but which is it?

Michelle, are you really saying that you have never heard that Bach's music is an expression of his theology? If so, and I mean no disrespect to you, your God-fearing University really failed you. Just google "Bach's music exresses theology" and you'll find close to 100,000 articles to read on the subject. This one's pretty good, but there are more:

Larry, don't you think you'd better find out who was on Bach's friend's list before you give him a cleaner bill of health than Chandler? At minimum you should know that Bach was willing to be identified with Luther's church and Luther was known for a bit of an "edgy" mouth. I think that's enough to deserve the boilerplate disclaimer, "I don't endorse everything . . ."

Also, you should read some of those articles Michelle is looking up on google. There are others, but you ought to start with this one:

Maybe no one becomes Lutheran, but monotheist, trinitarian, protestant -- maybe some do.

And, as far as Bach's current hermeneutic -- unless you've got a time machine into the next dispensation, then I don't think you know what you are talking about.



Michelle said...


Enlightening! Thanks for your opinion. I have looked at the article you referred to and find it was written by an Anglican vicar and published in a magazine by an organization comprised of Protestants, Catholics, and Christians. Enough said for me. I'm sorry but I don't believe everything that is written on the internet or in any book except the Bible. Some of these assertions made about Bach reminds me of something that I heard years ago--"Were you there?" If not then how can one really know what Bach was saying in his organ and other instrumental music pieces. By the way, the original article was written about organ music. Organ music does not have words with it so therefor cannot portray theology. Lots of people Christian and non-christian alike have used some of the same music techniques Bach used without condemnation. I wish you well on your research.


Anonymous said...


I was not condemning Bach. I think he's awesome! I was congratulating Larry for thinking so too.

I agree that lots of people Christian and non-christian alike have used Bach's techniques to good ends. In fact, it tickles me to death when non-Christians use Christian techniques. It doesn't happen enough nowdays -- 'cause we don't often enough produce techniques worth using.

It also makes me happy when Christians plunder Egyptians who have stumbled on some bit of truth, beauty, or goodness before them.

Now, as to your throwing out the article because it was written by an Anglican, then why don't you throw out Bach's choral music (if not his instrumental) because it's texts were written by a Lutheran church musician? Or, are you Lutheran?

We know from Bach's own writings and from other reasonably trustworthy history WHY Bach was writing even his organ music. And the reason was to glorify God and worship him -- SDG, Soli Deo Gloria, To God's Glory Alone.

We know that Bach was trying to communicate his theology -- he sure wasn't trying to communicate someone else's theology. You can argue that he failed to hit his target, but there is really little doubt as to what he was shooting for. If I had to be there to know that, then I can know nothing of any history at all.

Further, the Bible has nothing to say about Bach or the years in which he lived. The cannon was closed before then. So, we'll have to look somewhere besides the Bible to answer the question on the table. Even if you won't believe an Anglican, there are plenty of other historians, musicians, and clergy who have said things similar to the vicar.



Larry said...


My original comments about endorsing was a (apparently too) thinly veiled mockery of those who think if you say anything good about someone who is not a fundamentalist that you have to add a disclaimer. So originally that was simply an addon to what I said about Chandler, and then to make it sillier, I said something parallel about Bach.

However, I don't think Bach's music "expresses" theology per se, at least in any meaningful sense. I think it is consistent with his theology because music does carry meaning. But I don't really want to get into that argument, especially about something that was a joke to begin with.

I will try to do better with my humor and mockery next time.

As always, thanks for reading and commenting.

Anonymous said...


I knew it was a joke (to some degree), and I was joking back. I guess I'm bad at joking too.

Of course I mean a lot of what I'm joking about, but I was trying to rib.