Affirmations and Denials

1

We affirm that essential to Christianity is orthopathy: rightly ordered loves and appropriate worship. As fundamental to Christianity as are the propositions that express and explain the doctrines of the Gospel, so is rightly ordered love for God.

We deny that Christianity is merely assent or commitment to a set of doctrinal propositions that explain the Gospel. Christianity can be denied by our works (1 Tim 5:8, Tis 1:16), and a lack of love for Christ comes under a curse (1 Cor 16:22).

2

We affirm that affective responses to God can correspond or fail to correspond with the person who is God (Mal 1:6-14). We affirm that wrong responses fall into the category of falsehood and error: they are heresies.

We deny that the internal and variable nature of the affections makes them nothing more than amoral preferences, or expressions of internal states of mind.

3

We affirm that beauty exists in reality, and is to be the pursuit of every believer (Phil 1:9-11)

We deny that beauty is imposed upon an object by the beholder, and is nothing more than the beholder’s pleasure.

We affirm that the recognition of beauty is fundamental to worship, and a right response to God entails both recognising and rightly responding to God’s beauty (Ps 29:2)

We deny that one twisted in his judgments and perceptions can rightly know and love God.

4

We affirm that the worship of God is regulated through his Word.

We deny that all circumstances of worship are explicitly regulated. We affirm that the circumstances of worship are to be matters of prudence, informed by the sound judgement that comes through ordinate affections (Prov 9:10). We deny that silence from God’s Word on the circumstances of worship renders them amoral, or their implementation a matter of indifference.

5

We affirm that expressions and vehicles of ordinate affections are usually works of imagination, expressed in metaphor: music, poetry, literature, and the plastic arts. The Word of God itself is a work of imagination. Two works of imagination are commanded for worship: poetry and music (Col 3:16)

We deny that God can be known and rightly loved purely through cognition and the understanding of objective propositional statements about God.

6

We affirm that the expressions of ordinate love to God have been different between ages and cultures. We further affirm that these expressions are nonetheless equivalent, representing the same orthopathy.

We deny that the variability of cultural expression makes these expressions without meaning, and therefore without morality.

7

We affirm that expressions of orthopathy are so because of their harmony with God’s created order.

We deny that this harmony with the created order will lead to complete uniformity of expression, or to a lack of variety.

8

We affirm that the meaning of these expressions, be they prayers, preached sermons, poems, or music can be parsed for their meaning, and judged for their appropriateness.

We deny that the subjective nature of these expressions makes it impossible to render a true judgment.

9

We affirm that meanings can be gained from outside Scripture: correct judgments about the created order can be made by believers and unbelievers alike (Act 17:28).

We deny that seeking knowledge and meaning outside of Scripture compromises its the final authority or denies its sufficiency.

10

We affirm the importance of hearing from learned cultural & literary critics, composers and musicologists.

We deny that looking to such figures amounts to elitism, or to making worship impossible for the average man.

11

We affirm that sentimental, trivial and other profane expressions of worship come largely through the form of expression, and not always through its content.

We deny that form and content can considered in isolation from one another.

12

We affirm that particular eras and their accompanying forms can be identified as largely hostile to orthopathy: Victorian romanticism and many of the gospel songs written in this era, the Jazz era and its Singspiration songs, the Rock era and the CCM songs that mimicked the various genres developing since that time, and contemporary songs or hymns which used these as their model to build upon.

We deny that there are no contemporary examples of orthopathy, or that orthopathy exists solely in the past.

13

We affirm that much of popular music is largely formulaic, sentimentalized and tends toward banality and narcissism. We affirm that popular music, through its stereotyped form, lacks the ability to communicate transcendence, which is central to worship. We further affirm that the use of modern popular forms is a concession to secularism, and subjugates supernaturalistic Christianity to an anti-supernaturalistic imagination.

We deny that a rejection of popular music is tantamount to elitism or a disdain for the average believer.

14

We affirm the importance of beginning our pursuit of sound worship within the bounds of that which we have inherited from the saints of the entire church age. Many of these, even the ones with whom we would have significant theological disagreements, have had a clearer understanding of what it is to love God rightly than those of our own age.

We deny both the chronological snobbery that ignores the past, and the Luddite desire to pickle ancient orthopathy.

15

We affirm the value of learning from the culture that developed around and in response to Christianity.

We deny that this pursuit is racist. We further deny that Christendom represents pure and unmixed Christianity.

16

We affirm that 21st century church must worship God in its own words, with its own voice. We add the qualification that these expressions must be expressions of ordinate affection and build on the tradition that represents such, while answering to the 21st century imagination.

We deny that music choices should be made to appease or attract a particular constituency in the church.

17

We affirm that every man is to sing with understanding (1 Cor 14:15)

We deny that the average man is better suited for only the simplest kind of music. We affirm that all men everywhere can appreciate beauty where it is present. We deny that Christians should worship with beautiful forms that are incomprehensible to them.

We affirm that good music or poetry may be simple.

We deny that good music or poetry may be shallow, trivial, banal or cliched.

18

We affirm the importance of the conscience, that every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. We affirm that every Christian must worship according to conscience, and should not violate conscience in public or private worship.

We deny that orthopathy can be imposed by diktat or cultivated by denying to Christians the development of judgment.

19

We affirm that the greatest threats to orthopathy come from within: from those professing Christians who write music, poems, sermons or other works for use in public or private worship. We further affirm that those ostensibly closest to our position may do the most damage – the man posing as a conservator, when he is simply a defender of what is familiar to him.

We deny that avowed sincerity changes the heretical nature of these works.

20

We affirm that the worship wars are to orthopathy what doctrinal heresies have been to orthodoxy:  defining points, and points of self-correction.

We deny that contending for orthopathy amounts to a denial of Romans 14 liberty.

We affirm that Christian unity is a commandment from Christ, and all things being equal, we seek maximum fellowship with other Christians.

We deny that a defense of orthopathy is intentionally schismatic, or deliberately divisive, any more than a defence of doctrinal fundamentals is. The divisiveness comes from the heresy: be it propositional or affective.

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