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Book: Contemporary Worship Music: A Biblical Defense

John M. Frame. Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1997. 212 pp. $10.99.

A voice for contemporary Reformed worship has finally arisen in the publishing ranks. In his second book on worship, John Frame, a classically trained musician and Reformed theologian, provides a well thought-out and articulate critique of the critics of contemporary worship music (CWM, as he dubs it). Laying a solidly Reformed theological foundation (which he states more fully in his earlier book, In Spirit and In Truth) Frame then examines thoroughly each argument against CWM in a separate chapter. He deals with such questions as, Is CWM a creature of modern culture? Does CWM dumb down worship? Is CWM authentically Christian? Two appendices directly address the arguments of Marva Dawn (Reaching Out without Dumbing Down, reviewed in RW 39) and David Wells (No Place for Truth). For those new to CWM, he presents a list of over 150 songs that he deems “consistent with Scripture and Reformed doctrine, excellent in musical and poetic quality, and singable,” including references to the books in which they are published. Frame is no ivory-tower theologian but an experienced worship leader in both traditional and nontraditional settings. Nor is he a slave to his defendant. He capably notes the weaknesses, strengths, and proper uses of CWM, seeking to “defend a limited use of it in Christian worship.” In the process he demonstrates convincingly that many critics have either not studied CWM in depth or are willfully distorting the truth about it. A good, solid, Reformed addition to any worship leader’s library.