The Sabbath and Worship Music
of most Adventist churches is largely based on the uncritical acceptance of the worship style of other churches.
To provide a theological basis for the choice and performance of music during the worship service of Adventist churches, we have considered in this chapter the implications of the Sabbath, Christ’s ministry in the heavenly sanctu- ary, and the Second Advent. We have found that each of these three distinctive Adventist beliefs contributes in its own unique way to the definition of what church music should be like.
The Sabbath teaches us to respect the distinction between the sacred and the secula , not only in time, but also in such areas as church music and worship. At a time when cultural relativism has influenced many churches to blur the distinction between sacred and secular music, the Sabbath teaches us to respect such a distinction in all the facets of Christian life, including church music and worship. To use secular music for the church service on the Sabbath is to treat the Sabbath as a secular day and the church as a secular place.
The study of the music and liturgy of the Jerusalem Temple, as well as the heavenly sanctuary, has been very instructive. We have found that out of respect for the presence of God, percussion instruments and entertainment music which stimulate people physically were not allowed in the Temple services, nor are they used in the liturgy of the heavenly sanctuary. For the same reason, percussion instruments and music that stimulates people physically rather than elevating them spiritually are out of place in the church today.
Worship in the earthly and heavenly temples teaches us also that God is to be worshipped with great reverence and respect. Church music must not treat God with frivolity and irreverence. It should help to quieten our souls and respond to Him in reverence.
At the beginning of a new millennium, the Seventh-day Adventist church faces an unprecedented challenge and opportunity to re-examine the theological basis for the choice and performance of its church music. We hope and pray that the church will respond to this challenge, not by accepting uncritically contem- porary pop music which is foreign to the mission and message of the church, but by promoting the composition and singing of songs that fittingly express the Bessed Hope that burns within our hearts (1 Pet 3:15).
1. Charlie Peacock, At the Cross Roads: An Insider’s Look at the Past, Present, and Future of Contemporary Christian Music (Nashville, TN, 1999),
Ibid., p. 70.