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The Sovereign Grace/Getty Music Question

Monday, June 01, 2009

The Sovereign Grace/Getty Music Question. That is the title of this recent post by Scott Aniol of Religious Affections Ministries

We have been using his hymn We Gather Together as part of our celebration of The Lord's Table at Fellowship Baptist Church of Salisbury for a few years now. It is a rich text that does a nice job of breaking down the various aspects regarding the Lord's Table (Communion) as presented in 1 Corinthians 11. At Scott's old site, he used to have some free hymns for downloading and using and We Gather Together was one of those hymns. Unfortunately, I cannot locate this feature at his new site.

Anyway, I think his article is definitely worth a read to anyone who has struggled with this question.

I do have one quibble with the article, however. Perhaps Scott is correct, but I feel as though he raises a little bit of a straw man in regards to the issue of Calvinism and dislike of SG/G.

He comments:

"But my observation is that for some fundamentalists, the reason they are afraid of SG/G is more because of the associated Calvinism than anything else."

and later,

"If you do not want to use the songs because you are uncomfortable associating yourself with the Calvinism of these writers, then honestly state your reasons and be consistent. But please show grace to those who embrace Calvinism and choose to use these songs because they reflect their soteriological convictions."

Again, there may be creatures out there who exist that fit the trait that Scott puts here, but I have NEVER met such a creature who rejects SG/G because of their associations with Calvinism. I have met plenty who reject SG/G because of their associations with charismatism, but never because of their Calvinism. It seems like to do so would cause some serious problems with some of the most popular hymns of all time. I have yet to see a Fundamentalist that rejects "Amazing Grace" because of John Newton's Calvinism or any of the great hymns of Isaac Watts because of his Calvinism.

Methinks that sometimes the strong Calvinists among us tend to think that anyone who is not also a strong Calvinist is an "anti-Calvinist" who is looking for a Calvinist "boogey man" behind every tree. While there are certainly some who seem to fit that description, it seems more like a charicature than reality.

UPDATE: My friend, Pastor Chris Anderson indicates that he has heard (albeit second-hand) of well-known music speaker Frank Garlock making the exact charge that Scott aludes to in his post. If this is the case, I am sorry for the straw man comments. If this is the case, I would also say that the group of Fundamentalists I associate with must be a strange group, because this line of argument would never come up in my circles.

(Also, if any one has a source of Garlock saying this, I would appreciate it. I would love to see what he said in context.)

Just my thoughts,



Christian said...

AHh, now that was refreshing. You illustrate and articulate what I have sensed in the recent pot stirring regarding Calvinism. This all reminds me that siblings who yell the loudest are not always the ones who were hit the hardest

Thank you!

Chris Anderson said...

Actually, Frank, I've heard that very critique (albeit secondhand through a former deacon at TCBC who is now pastoring): Frank Garlock has said that his major concern with Sovereign Grace music is their Calvinistic bent. That's fine. I'm just saying it's not being invented by Scott (with whom I disagree on the issue, BTW). :)


Frank Sansone said...


Wow. Do you have a source for the Garlock quote? I would love to see it. If he said this, he is either ignorant of the source of some of the hymns he included in his own hymnbook or he is inconsistent.

I know a number of Pastors who do not use the SG/G music and give associations as part of their reason, but the Calvinistic associations of SG/G has never been the issue in any of those conversations. Usually the association concern is two-fold - the whole genre of the music and the charismatic connection.

Thanks for the tip. I would love to see the context of the Garlock comment. (It may explain some other things, as well.)


Anonymous said...

I don't know if I can answer to the Calvinist association. I haven't personally talked to anyone who made that argument. I have talked to several, and their concerns about association were largely due to that of origin and CCM rather than Calvinism. Just my thoughts.

Chris Anderson said...

Frank, it's from a private conversation. I'm certain of it's validity, but it's not documentable.

Word verification: "cusses." No kidding. :)

Frank Sansone said...


Looks like you have had the same experience of me on this. That is why I was surprised to see the other line of reasoning. It seemed absurd considering how many hymns by Calvinist fill most hymnals.


Sorry for the confusion. I thought your friend had heard from Garlock in one of his seminars or something that might have been accessible.

Word verification "cusses", huh? Maybe Blogger has you confused with Driscoll :) .


Peter B said...

Seems like the Fundamentalists can't catch a break these days... While I've heard of/witnessed fundamentalists rejecting a particular group/movement under a variety of "association" claims, I don't recall "Calvinism" being one of them.

And why must it be such an issue that some people choose not to use SG/G music, anyway? Are they not free to make that choice?

Oh, and can we PLEASE be done with the term "Calvinism"?? I much prefer, "the accurate theology which regained popularity during the Reformation period" :)

Joe Hansen said...

Good thoughts, Frank.

As a non-Calvinist, I certainly appreciate Toplady's Rock of Ages, and Luther's "A Mighty Fortress," among others written reflecting that mostly biblical theology that surged during the Reformation.

I also agree that Fundamentalism is a big enough tent to include both Calvinists and those who don't necessarily hold those views. We can and should get along while dealing with the bigger issues at stake.

Clever Odysseus said...

What do you disagree with Scott on, Chris?

Chris Anderson said...

I think it's carefully written and offers a number of "howevers." It's not dogmatic. Scott obviously doesn't make it a test of fellowship, which is good. I think he does a fine job presenting matters for consideration.

My disagreement is that the church would be better served to eliminate songs like "Before the Throne" or "In Christ Alone" from its repertoire in favor of older hymns. We enjoy Wesley and Watts (who are the measuring rod, I think), but we also use with discretion select SG/G songs. I can't imagine a hymn more valuable for corporate worship than "Before the Throne," for example. It's been saved from obscurity by a fresh, fervent, appropriate tune.

On the other hand, Scott thinks the hymns I've written with Greg Habegger are a bit "edgy," I think. :)

Clever Odysseus said...

My sense was that he really didn't come down saying you shouldn't use them, although he doesn't personally.

Didn't he recommend your "Praise Our Savior, Jesus Christ"? He didn't seem to think that was edgy.

Chris Anderson said...


Scott and I fellowship on these issues a lot. I shouldn't have thrown out a blanket ("I disagree"). That's an overstatement. And as he's said, he does use some Townend/Getty stuff, selectively. I don't mean to represent it as though we're at odds on this. Obviously there's room for guys to disagree on what they are and are not comfortable with.

I did appreciate his kind link very much, and will tell him so. As for "edgy," let's just say he mentioned my name and Paul Jones', not Greg Habegger's. :)

Anonymous said...

Here is a very recent video of Garlock at Calvary Baptist Church in New Bern NC. At the end of the video, he takes questions and addresses the SG issue. You can watch him here: