Postscript: I don't have a personal practice of twisting and turning, trembling and shaking, or otherwise dancing in worship, nor am I compelled to convince others either for it or against it. I serve and worship God as He leads, and trust His ability to lead others without my interpretation of Scripture.
In dealing with that wild and crazy Miriam, Brent writes, >This was a celebration of the defeat of the Egyptians at the hand of God- it was not a worship service... I don't get the difference. Brent seems particularly afraid of this text. He seems to be trying hard to keep us in the pews and under control. I'm wondering if it's not time to learn to root for God again. Bob wrote, >The main concern seems to be separating the choral elements of the Hebrew words mentioned from their rhythmic or movement elements. I want to second your analysis of the article especially in this area. If the entirety of the lexical meanings are considered, there is a lot of motion involved, especially of a circular nature. I would be more inclined to suspect that lexicographers of earlier times have been attempting to suppress expressions of emotion, just as Brent is now.
Thanks George. It's nice to know that my "opinions" are shared by others.
I agree with your analysis George. I think Brent goes to great lengths to shoehorn scripture into an extreme a priori assumption that true worship must be physically static (or that all forms of dance are somehow sinful). The Miriam text is especially telling. The text begins by announcing that Miriam is a prophetess, as if to say that what happened next took place under inspiration. "And Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances." The same word for dance(machowla) is used to describe what happened around the golden calf. It is obvious that in each case worship movement took place (one type approved of God, the other not). Ellen White, the prophetess, in describing this event says, "Miriam had led the women of Israel in song and dance on the shore of the Red Sea. In the affections of the people and the honor of Heaven she stood second only to Moses and Aaron." PP 382 Here she connects the song and dance worship leadership of Miriam with her being highly esteemed in heaven! Here is her description of a similar worship event at the feast of tabernacles, "At evening when the lamps were lighted, the court was a scene of great rejoicing. Gray-haired men, the priests of the temple and the rulers of the people, united in the festive dances to the sound of instrumental music and the chants of the Levites." DA 463 Nothing unsanctified or unworshipful going on here either. Are we really to believe that all of these references to dancing are not really dancing? That the prophetess couldn't have actually danced, or did so in ignorance? Or, that that the modern prophetess in commenting on the event didn't really mean dancing, or seemed to approve of dancing in ignorance as well?! Are we to believe that when Miriam and the women were playing a rhythm on timbrels they were motionless; or that after just being delivered from captivity and death they would engage in a static, motionless, somber hymn of praise? I think the stones would have danced!
One added caveat. Please don't mistake my comments as some kind of approval of the CCM concert type worship that is often(not always) identical to rock music 'worship.' I was immersed in the rock music and drug culture for 13 years. I know 'golden calf,' 'plain of Dura' type worship when I see it (and feel it). I have watched the evolution of CCM from its infancy. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that there is often an overt effort to syncretize rock music 'worship' with Christian worship. This is the epitome of what happened with the golden calf, where they claimed to worship 'the Lord' but engaged in carnal, worldly Egyptian idolatry. On the other hand, I do think there are examples of sanctified worship involving both music and movement. I have seen the Sabbath welcomed with Jewish style folk dance that was quite uplifting. I have greatly benefited from many very kinesthetic, yet sanctified, African American forms of worship. Better to draw a distinc tion between sanctified and unsanctified worship expression (between fleshly and spiritual worship), rather than trying to perform eisegetical gymnastics to nullify all worshipful music and dance.
Victor, thanks for joining in. I believe flesh and blood hath not revealed these things to you.
Thanks George. I don't think I ever had anybody say that about something I wrote before. Its good to know that I don't have to be accountable for these comments now and can pass responsibility to someone else!
Of course the very next moment you might need to be told “Get thee behind me, Satan.” :)
I would expect nothing less. Happy New Year.
Thank you for your comments gentlemen. But, I respectfully disagree with a few points. #1- EG White often will quote a text that has the incorrect translation into our English word- and in some other place will elaborate on its meaning as she does in this passage. I know the PP statement well, and almost included it. It doesn't negate the point that I and others have made- only that she uses the word “dance”. I could give several examples- where she quoted a mistranslation in the English text, and in other places elaborates on her meaning. #2- I am not advocating a sterile, sit in the pews, no movement worship! Where did you get that idea? I am only looking at 3 Hebrew words- haven't looked at all at “shout,” “clap,” “joyful noise,” “david danced,” etc. #3- "shoehorn" scripture? No- but I believe that a word can ONLY MEAN what it originally mean't. After consulting 14 Lexicons, the meaning of these words is easily seen. The next step is simple- look at the context and see which word fits the context the best. None of these conclusions are unique- others have seen them. # 4- Please- these are only 3 words. There are other "movements" described with the remaining 4 Hebrew words translated "dance"- which will cover the range of movements. #5- "human effort. . . twisting. . . " - - if my lexical conclusions are wrong- please show that. #6- George- I have appreciated your comments in the past- and your support. I am not encouraging any kind of a non-kinesthetic worship. Please- don't read everything into the study of 3 Hebrew words. I am only looking at these, because they are the "darlings" of CCM supporters. #7- Bob- If we can't trust Lexicographers, whose life study was to understand what meanings of words were in the centuries before Christ, and we think we know better, we are in trouble. Blessings to all- I make one comment per article, and this is it. In Christ- - and let's keep studying these and other issues. (BTW- I never claimed to be infallible in this article- please keep your comments in harmony with that understanding. It is also interesting that no one has commented on the Ps. 150 conclusions . . .)
Brent. Forgive me if I misunderstood your intent or philosophy of worship. I am primarily advocating for the plain meaning of a text in its context without having to engage in lengthy lexical studies. If 'Machowla' can be legitimately translated as 'dance', if God's people have engaged in sanctified celebratory dance in other places in Scripture, if the context indicates an inspired celebration of the highest sort - why would you go to lengths to somehow prove otherwise? If the great lengths imply that innumerable translators didn't know what they were talking about, or that a prophet of God didn't know what she was talking about when she followed their translation, or that, even if the so-called dancing took place - 'Miriam the prophetess' was engaging in questionable activity that God didn't really approve of, but 'winked at;' then I must speak out. Finally I think Ellen White spells out my position clearly here: "This test should be decisive. Amusements that have a tendency to weaken the love for sacred things and lessen our joy in the service of God are not to be s ought by Christians. The music and dancing in joyful praise to God at the removal of the ark had not the faintest resemblance to the dissipation of modern dancing. The one tended to the remembrance of God and exalted His holy name. The other is a device of Satan to cause men to forget God and to dishonor Him." PP 707 Music and dancing like that which took place under Miriam's inspired leadership, or David's sanctified exultation, should be translated; without fear, just as their context and language demand.
Brent wrote, >EG White often will quote a text that has the incorrect translation... The problem is that in PP 382, she's not quoting scripture. The word "dance" is her own word. But, I appreciate your work and open mindedness. I will be looking forward to your next article.
that pp 707 reference is very helpful, thx...and i would say that from a personal standpoint, it's probably decisive...the problem comes in the context of a corporate worship service where my personal standpoint can't be used to define someone else's... music and dance are so inextricably linked - in fact western art music arose out of the court dances of the day, but music is historically linked with dance throughout the history of the world, quite apart from anything coming out of europe - and the whole effect is so subjective and culturally and generationally nuanced, i seriously doubt whether a precise analysis of what is felt to be the original meaning of a few words in use thousands of years ago is going settle in anyone's mind what our worship services should sound or look like today... the good thing in the adventist church now is that there are white churches, black churches, latino churches, asian churches, filipino churches, native churches, celebration churches, youth churches, independent traditional churches, old folks farmer churches, blue collar churche s, and white collar professional churches in our educational centres, not to mention a number of species of churches broadcasting through media and online...so take your pick according what draws you closest to jesus and be done with it... [S51411s1101722_7](//res.cloudinary.com/moot/image/upload/t_d3-gallery-s3/v1388813322/:advindicate:Vsbk:s51411s1101722_7.jpg.jpg)
"the good thing in the adventist church now is that there are celebration churches..." And why is this a good thing? I live just a couple of miles from the original celebration church. I listened to one of their elders punk traditional music genre's from the pulpit. But music and dancing cannot replace good ol fashioned submission to true life in Christ. So it hasn't worked out too well for them.
doug, "to the pure, all things are pure"...i've gone to a few celebration churches when visiting places and have been blessed...it's really just people trying to be real...if these people weren't in the celebration churches, they wouldn't be anywhere... i think a lot of regulars in these churches are jaded and fragmented - i've seen quite a bit of financial and family problems...they can't relate to a typical conservative church where people wear suits and ties, sing hymns, kneel down and pray - the order and structure is suffocating to them...but beneath all the apparent indifference and liberalism, there are sincere people in celebration churches, just like in other churches...you just have to know how to recognize and nurture that sincerity...
Doug wrote, >But music and dancing cannot replace good ol fashioned submission to true life in Christ. I'm beginning to think that *true* submission to Christ's life in me _leads to_ music and dancing.
"they can't relate to a typical conservative church where people wear suits and ties, sing hymns, kneel down and pray – the order and structure is suffocating to them" This sounds like your typical hippie mentality where they have a hard time relating to anyone who doesn't share their distain of those who don't fit the mold of hip and cutting edge. A true Christian rejoices in the exercise of prayer, singing hymns, and isn't offended by those who choose to exhibit their respect for God's presence by dressing in a manner which signifies the importance of the one they are meeting with. What's suffocating about structure and order to a person who is having a true experience with a God Who has forgiven all their sins? "beneath all the apparent indifference and liberalism, there are sincere people in celebration churches, just like in other churches" That is undeniably true. The point is just that all that excitable and emotional expression so often exhibited at Pentecostal type gatherings don't often reflect a deeper love of God.
Doug wrote, >A true Christian...isn't offended by those who choose to exhibit their respect for God's presence by dressing in a manner which signifies the importance of the one... That's always been the reason for the pharisees fine robes--signifying the importance of the one--in the robe. >The point is just that all that excitable and emotional expression so often exhibited at Pentecostal type gatherings don't often reflect a deeper love of God. That's true, they more often reflect drunkenness (Acts 2:13).
Come on. You are saying these virgins who went out to celebrate with dance in an annual feast of YHWH (where the tabernacle was) received ungodly husbands for their actions? Are you serious? Don't you know that it is usually only the maidens who go out in dance? (Jer 31:4&13) The tribe of Benjamin misbehaved and was out of order, on the third day of battle YHWH delivered Benjamin into the hands of Israel, so that they were almost wiped out,including the women. And most of Israel swore to not give their wives to them.. Israel didn't want for one tribe to be extinguished, so they provided Benjamin 400 virgins from the only camp that didn't swear the oath. Are you saying these 400 virgins also received ungodly husbands for their actions? To suffice the remaining 200 men of Benjamin they decided to plot a scheme so that the fathers 'officially' didn't break the oath by giving their daughters in marriage.
Another typical ‘let the Bible support my opinion’ rather than ‘let the Bible inform my opinion’. Nice attempt but let’s just be honest - Dancing was a part of Hebrew culture. The word for festivals derives From a root word ‘to dance’. David danced before the Lord. It’s a misuse of scripture to suggest Scripture should not be taken seriously when it does not support our point of view. There seemed to be no dispute about dance when it was mentioned in a negative context, but Pinot in a positive context - the author goes straight into trying to downplay and does the typical thing of suggesting ‘Israel was not perfect, so they are not an example of how to worship’. So exactly which people on Earth throughout history were perfect? Who is a good example of what God expects of worship? I am assuming we believe God to be perfect - He mentioned dances in Jeremiah 31. Whether literal or poetic He did not have any issue talking about it. (Of course someone will come up with some clever answer that it means something else). The Psalmist - he turned my mourning into dancing . He says GOD turned his mourning to dancing. Again, even if we are looking at that poetically rather than literal dancing, it does not alter the fact that the word dancing was used in conjunction with God, used by God, and said to be done in the sight of God. We will have a serious time trying to discuss such things as Sabbath with people when we reason like this. The same way we are talking about dance, people are using a similar approach regarding Sabbath, and then we accuse them of trying to twist Scriptures. The ‘pipe’ was a merry instruments, and played with timbrel in celebrations as people danced. Even if dance is not physically meant, it is definitely implied as an activity taking place whilst the instruments are being played. Jesus mentions ‘flute’ in relation to dancing. This is in the New Testament, in Greek, so moreClarity about meanings!