Retraction & Clarification in My Review of Gordon’s Book

Zac HicksUncategorized2 Comments

Hello blogosphere.  Since the Monday posting of my review of Why Johnny Can’t Sing Hymns, Dr. Gordon and I have been engaged in an email dialogue about it.  I thank God for humble spirits like Gordon who are willing to engage and clarify, for the sake of truth and beauty, and to the blessing of Christ’s church. 

Gordon pointed out several misrepresentations I’ve made.  It is fair, right, and appropriate that I acknowledge and correct those misrepresentations.  Those changes have been made in my blog posts, and they have also been corrected with a red note at the top of the document, in the full PDF.  For crystal-clarity, I note them below.  I am fallible and can therefore only think that as Dr. Gordon and I continue to dialogue, there may be other clarifications I’ll need to make in my document.  I promise that, as time permits, I will update them.

———-

1) I wrongly said that Gordon does not point out that Johnny’s parents are to blame.

Here is the original statement:

Because of the dominance of the value of contemporaneity, a generation of evangelicals has grown up never knowing hymns.  In other words, as Gordon points out, part of the reason Johnny can’t sing hymns is because Johnny is ignorant that hymns even exist to be sung!  However, Gordon doesn’t point out that it was largely Johnny’s father and mother who indiscriminately embraced those values and raised Johnny in a church with those values.

Here is the corrected statement:

Because of the dominance of the value of contemporaneity, a generation of evangelicals has grown up never knowing hymns.  In other words, as Gordon points out, part of the reason Johnny can’t sing hymns is because Johnny is ignorant that hymns even exist to be sung!  I agree with Gordon’s assessment when he says that it was largely Johnny’s father and mother in the boomer generation (esp. p. 159) who indiscriminately embraced those values and raised Johnny in a church with those values.

 

2) I wrongly assumed that Gordon favored the organ.  He communicated that he does not.

Here is the original statement:

Throughout the book, Gordon seems to insinuate that the pinnacle of Christian worship is to be found in organ-and-choir-led music—classical instrumentation and classical forms… Gordon traps himself in his own argument when he advocates for the traditional, organ-led rendering of “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.”

Here is the qualified statement:

Throughout the book, the argumentation Gordon employs lends itself to the conclusion that the pinnacle of Christian worship is to be found in organ-and-choir-led music*—classical instrumentation and classical forms…Gordon traps himself in his own argument when he advocates for the traditional rendering of “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.”

*[added footnote] In a subsequent conversation with Gordon, he felt this was a misrepresentation of his position.  He was clear that he does not favor the organ, and he pointed out that he actually sees deficiencies in the organ as an accompanying instrument.  I still believe, however, that the logical conclusion of his argumentation lends itself to favoring that instrument in worship.  I also still believe that Why Johnny Can’t Sing Hymns does contain an unfounded bias toward classical instrumentation.

The reason I qualified, but did not fully change, the statement is that I believe the larger point still holds.  Even if Gordon does not personally favor the organ, the argumentation in its book by strong insinuation encourages organ-playing over and against any relatively modern instrumentation. 



2 Comments on “Retraction & Clarification in My Review of Gordon’s Book”

  1. Zac,
    These seem to be pretty minor retractions against the broader critique of Gordon's book. Could Gordon not engage with you on a level of musicality? In some of your extended quotations of his book, there were many troubling musical statements he made that proved his ignorance. Has he admitted that he ought to make retractions as well? Fairness and charity would dictate as much……

    Grace and peace,
    Dave

  2. Thanks, Dave. Gordon has now done so, and has answered some of my important questions. We still don't necessarily agree, but there is a LOT more clarity, which I hope to post on in the near future. My interaction with him has been remarkable and Spirit-filled, I believe.

    Z

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