About the Author(s)

Takalani A. Muswubi Email symbol
Department of Missiology, Faculty of Theology, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa


Muswubi, T.A., 2024, ‘Reviewing doxological motivation for church missional music from a reformational perspective’, In die Skriflig 58(1), a3074. https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v58i1.3074

Original Research

Reviewing doxological motivation for church missional music from a reformational perspective

Takalani A. Muswubi

Received: 02 Mar. 2024; Accepted: 30 Apr. 2024; Published: 10 June 2024

Copyright: © 2024. The Author(s). Licensee: AOSIS.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


This article reviews the doxological motivation of and for the church’s mission from a reformational perspective. The researcher learned that there is a human tendency to position oneself, or other beings or things, in the centre of God’s story and mission. Human religions and philosophy in ancient times claimed that behind the visible reality, there is an invisible world of either fate or ideals, which determined how people lived, and how they viewed and practised music. It is learned from missiological debates that the goal and the motive of the church’s missional music are often misunderstood and it led to a disarray, not only of the goal and motive of the church’s music, but also of the effective and efficient missional fellowship with God and with each other through music. With an overarching theme of formation (creation), deformation (humanity’s fall into sin) and reformation (redemption and hope), this article is set to discuss three aspects of doxological motivation of and for the church’s missional music, before the concluding remarks. In short, firstly the starting point: its formation; secondly, the critical point: its deformation (misdirection); thirdly, the ultimate point: its reformation and consummation.

Contribution: This article adds value (a voice) in finding ways and means for the effective and efficient missional worship of God through church music. In that regard, understanding the doxological motivation behind the church’s missional music and its relevance in the missional worship of God is important. This attempt not only helps in handling misconceptions regarding the human tendency to position themselves, other beings, or things in the centre of God’s story, worship and mission, but helps also in restoring the proper doxology at the centre of worshipping God through music.

Keywords: doxology; missional; church music; reformational; Missio Deo.


The foundation of our activity in music is the creation. (DeMol 1999:2)

This statement of DeMol (1999:2) joins the chorus of referring human thoughts, words and activities back to God’s original intentions, as Paul did when addressing worship issues (1 Tm 2:13 ff) and Christ, when He spoke about divorce (Mt 19:4 ff). The Ancient Near East religions claimed that the forces of nature are main sources of sound, even of music and songs. There was a gradual shift from such a belief to that of the Ancient Greek Cosmology, in claiming that the power of ideals and forms are main sources of sound, music and songs. This article is set to discuss three aspects regarding doxological motivation and church music, before making the concluding remarks, viz. firstly, the starting point: its formation; secondly, the critical point: its deformation (misdirection); thirdly, the ultimate point: its reformation and consummation (Brown 2011:17; Guroian 1997:377).

The starting point: Doxological motivation1

God’s creation and human doxological response

God completed the creation of the universe and everything in it and was satisfied with what He created, and hence He approved his creation as ‘good’ – six times (cf. Gn 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21 & 25) and as ‘very good’ at its completion (cf. Gn 1:31; Wright 2006:399). The completed creation is still unfolding and hence lies vibrant to be developed through our God-given cultural mandate (cf. Gn 1:28; Wolters 1985:36). The cultural mandate is not primarily a command to be obeyed, but firstly, it is a blessing or sign of God’s active presence, power, and purpose, as his communication and fellowship with his noblest creature (cf. Gn 1:26 ff). Secondly, it is a gift by which He equips and enables humanity to increase, inhabits, rules, cultivates, and cares for creation (cf. Gn 1:26, 28; 2:15; Ps 8:6 ff; Begbie 1991:153; Van der Walt 1994:178f). Worship songs and music should be understood as part of the God-given cultural mandate. In that regard, the sound and its waves and properties, the human larynx, wood, metal and reed lie vibrant so as to be developed and moulded into worship music, which is to be used and enjoyed in and outside the church (cf. Eph 5:19 & Col 3:16).

God deserves human doxology that includes worship songs and music

God not only made each human being after his image (εἰκών), but He also granted each with a creational right and capacity to be addressed by and be accountable to God, and hence to be aware of God’s communication (cf. Gn 1:27; Wright 2006:421, 422). The image of God and the cultural mandate are neither separate nor supplementary, but are intertwined and embodied with the core of our being (who and what we are, see the adverbial explanation of an image by Lightfoot 1892:144–48) and with our regal qualities (wisdom, power, goodness, gentleness – Ps 93, 145, cf. the adjectival explanation of an image according to Wright 2006:421 ff). God made us to increase, inhabit, rule, cultivate and care for the creation (Gn 1:26, 28; 2:15; Ps 8:6–9; cf. also Van der Walt 1994:165, 178–179; De Bruyn 2000:55–58). He summoned all people (Ps 117:1; 104:10, 21; 148 & 150:6) with the purpose (Ps 67; 86:9; 148:11 ff) that He alone will be glorified, worshipped, admired, be marvelled at, praised, and enjoyed (Ps 96:10–13; 98:7–9). This is what God himself desires, expects, predicts, and deserves from the beginning (Ps 22:27–28; 46:10; 66:4; 56:9). As voices and priests of the creation, all human beings are representatives and secretaries of praise of and for the rest of the creation: the creation, inarticulate, yet never silent, becomes articulated in humanity (Begbie 1991:177–178).

Human doxology should be manifested through heartfelt songs and music

Music has a powerful missional influence on the inner and deepest core of one’s religious life which relates to God (Pr 17:22; 23:7; Jr 17:9; 23:20; Hs 7:11; cf. also Heuvel 1999:5). Such missional influence of music is heartfelt and holistic in the sense that it involves, firstly, the heart and mind (the capacity to believe, think and understands what is being sung – Mt 9:4; 13:15; Rm 10:10; 1 Cor 14:15 ff; cf. Frame 1996:116 ff); and secondly, the emotions (the capacity to love, desire, and rejoice in, singing to and for the Lord – Pr 3:5; Mt 12:30; Rm 10:1); thirdly, the will (the capacity to obey the content of what is sung – Pr 19:21; Jn 16:22; Rm 6:17; 2 Cor 9:7); fourthly, the conscience (the capacity to distinguish the right and the wrong teachings (sinful tendencies) in songs and music – 1 Jn 3:20 ff). This article argues for the missional character of music to be reviewed, to enhance our worshipping music doxology, as it produces a joyful, exuberant, heartfelt, and Spirit-filled kind of music, which is useful and enjoyable in and outside the church (cf. Eph 5:19; Col 3:16; MacArthur 1986:256 and Stott 2007) and not something shallow and impersonal (cf. Ouweneel 2009:32–33).

The critical point: The deformation and the misdirection of human doxology

Wolvaart (1999–2005) states:

Even after his people had fallen into sin, God continued to communicate with them in order to heal the broken relationship. This communication addressed the people’s circumstances and led to the Bible being written with Christ as the central message. (p. 18)

It is necessary to give a brief historical account, traced back to the Ancient Kingdoms of Assyria, Babylonia, the Sumerians and Egypt, before discussing what Wolvaart (1999–2005:18) stated above, namely the healing (restoration) of the broken relationship between God and his creation, which includes humanity and their worshipping songs and music. The historical account can give us a glimpse of the extent of the distortion, defilement, corruption, deformation, and the misdirection of the God-intended formation of music, due to the fall into sin.

Music as a response to the call of fate in the Near Eastern polytheism

The Ancient Near East (ANE) people saw themselves as part of nature and as controlled by natural forces. They believed that there are forces which not only control the cycle of seasons, but which are in an eternal battle for supremacy and hence people are caught up in this cycle of seasons (Bosch 1991:17). It is believed that in such a cycle, people can neither be above it, nor in control of it, and hence they are irrevocably bound to it. In this context, music is part of the cult or ritual and is used to pacify the hostile and unavoidable forces of nature. Music was regarded as a solution for neutralising or balancing forces2 of nature, that manifest themselves in the cycle of seasons, rain, storms, draughts, life and death, and fertility (Eichrodt 1961:45, 46; Jacob 1962:47f).

The heavenly bodies as the source and destiny of music

Despite the nuances, there was a general belief that the heavenly bodies are the source and destiny of music in the ANE Kingdoms of Assyria, Babylonia, the Sumerians, and Egypt (cf. Miller 1960:4). They associated and conceptualised music not only through mathematics and astrology (cf. Plato’s Timaeus 96–09; as well as Alvin 1966:14), but they also attributed it to the motion of the planets, based on the belief that the music is produced by the movement of celestial bodies (cf. Edgar 2003:28 ff; Aluede 2006:32). Their respective musicians and priests associated acoustical substance (sound, voice, and music) not only with the creation (cause) and motion (effect) of the universe, including the planets and celestial bodies (cf. Edgar 2003:28 ff), but also with the moral (ethical) and rituals, including the curing of sickness by using music (sound and voice), which is retained in the material world and things (cf. Plato’s Timaeus 96–99; Alvin 1966:14; Stumpf 1993:4).

The missional narrators of Yahweh: The God of Israel against misconceptions regarding music: There was a gradual shift from the superstitious myth about music, namely that music causes fate in the universe, towards the speculative myth about music, namely that there are a tripartite musical schema which Willis (2010:15) explains: firstly, the Musica Mundana [the heavenly music], which is related to the logos; secondly the Musica Humana [the earthly music], which is related to the harmony of tones; and thirdly, the daily Musica Instrumentalis [the inferior, audible music, which is related to rhythm]. Plato’s dualistic and tripartite music schema resulted in the proto-gnostic and docetic teachings. Such teachings propose that the human body and sensible matter (creation) are a mere copy of real, invisible and ultimate forms. As such they are insufficient copies of real, invisible forms like darkness that comes from being far from light (Carr 2001:12ff).

The ‘Omniscient’ narrators narrate what they see behind the scenes and the characters’ private thoughts, feelings, and moments (Deist 1986:75). In that context they are polemic and missional in narrating the biblical account, also in the sense that they not only interpreted history to teach their readers that Yahweh, the Sovereign Lord, is in complete control of the universe (Waters 1997:13), but they also reveal Yahweh as the supreme God with power, authority, presence, wisdom, and glory over and against the Near Eastern myths of creation and of polytheism (cf. Job 3:8; 7:12; 9:13; 26:12–13; 41:1; cf. Anderson 2007:5).

The difference between the biblical faith and the Ancient Near Eastern religions and their associated extra-biblical texts (Prichard 1969; Walton 1994:169–189) regarding music were addressed. The ANE people believed that music has inherent (divine) qualities which cause their respective gods to respond and hence affect nature (including to cause rain and storms) and the birth, growth and healing of plants and humans, when certain musical instruments (sounds and voices) are played, like flutes and drumbeats (cf. McClellan 1988:1). The polemic and missional approach and direction is necessary to restore the nature and the role of music.

The missional approach and the Platonic speculations about music forms: The apostle Paul addressed the Platonic speculations about the body which is viewed as a prison [πληλακε] and the Stoic apathetic view of bodily passion and emotions, as evil and hence urging people to submit themselves to a destiny decreed by an impersonal, uncaring, unknowing and unloving ‘god’ of fate. These teachings distort the biblical view of the nature and role of the body, emotions, and musical instruments as inherently evil, immoral and inferior (cf. Edgar 2003:82; Hodges 2010:4). They associate the music instruments (with rhythmic, drumming, elaborations and bodily emotions and expressions that go with it) with pagan worship and demons’ expulsions (Edgar 2003:82; Willis 2010:14). This article agrees that the chanting of audible words and singing in unison (with proper tuning of the single scaled and harmonised human voice) by the Roman Catholic Church, including the Monks and nuns in monasteries who chose Gregorian chanting of audible words, is the purest form of worship that elevates the mind to God (cf. Jones 1940:8; Willis 2010:13–16). However, this article is arguing that a review is needed in the case of the following: if the motive of chanting and other forms of singing is done on the expense of, or with a wrong Platonic view of, the soul and body dualism, and the tripartite music schema of Plato regarding musical instruments, emotional expressions where it is believed that the musical beat, rhythm and melodies, with definite scales of major and minor, invite evil thoughts and behaviour, which have a damaging effect on the mind, soul (inner being) and the moral behaviour of God’s people (Andrews 1992:31; Solomon, 1992:1; Chupungco 1992:105; Fourie 2000:112). Paul, who knew and argued with philosophers, and even quoted their writings (Ac 17:28), not only attacked the Platonic call of ‘freeing the soul from the evil body’ (cf. Col 2:16–23; Rm 6 & 7), but also argued for the integrated body and soul as the one living soul and hence an image of God, which also confirms the resurrection of the (groaning) bodies (cf. Gn 1:26–27; 2:7; Rm 8:23; 1 Cor 15:12–58).

Missional approach to music and the Greek mythology as the religious base of music therapy: This article agrees that there are clear benefits of music therapy (cf. Abraham 1982:25; Bredenkamp 2006:72)3 whereby musical sounds are used to bring about changes from a person’s undesirable, unhealthy condition to a more comfortable one. Pythagoras practised ‘musical medicine’ whereby he used music for mental patients, based on his finding that health is achieved when the body is ‘in tune’ with properly tuned strings, for the body was viewed as a musical instrument (Stumpf 1993:12). However, this article argues for the revision of the religious direction and attribute given to music therapy, namely in the direction of the Greek mythology regarding Apollo, the Greek god of both music and medicine (Alvin 1966:24, 34; Edgar 2003:24). In the Bible and in history, music is used as therapy to treat the physical and mental disorderliness, illness, and disability (cf. 1 Sm16:18, 23; Eph 5:19 ff; Alvin 1966:86).

Missional approach and the early church fathers’ view of music, based on Plato: This article cites music therapy as one of numerous examples of how music can have both a positive and a negative effect on the soul (inner thinking and feeling). Music is used not only in treating physical and mental disorders, illnessess and disabilities, but also in comforting the bereaved (in funerals) and enhancing the joyful ones in life (cf. Ps 98:4–9; Ja 5:13; Wilson-Dickson 1992:23). Plato’s work, especially Timaeus, influenced many scholars and some early Apostolic and church fathers to advocate Docetism (from the Greek δοκεῖν meaning to seem, or to appear – Schneemelcher 1994:220). Docetism is the doctrine that denies the humanity of Jesus Christ by believing that his body is an illusion (only seemed to be human) and hence He has only a non-material form or ‘divine’ immortal soul, which was imprisoned temporally in an evil body or flesh, and its real home is in the invisible (spiritual) realm (Timaeus 96–97). The human soul would return to the heavenly realm and, if not, it would continue to pass into a woman to be reborn or reincarnated (Timaeus 97–98). This article calls for the review of the lyrics (wording) of the worship music, to discard heresies (false teachings) involved. In the church in Colossae,4 Paul’s letter was combating the tripartite heresies of (1) false philosophy or speculation, which ‘leaves God out of the picture’ and based on venerable tradition (2:8), claiming to have knowledge not yet available to an average Christian; (2) false mediation (cf. Col 2:16–18; Constable 2015:6 ff), which teaches that Jesus Christ did not really come in a body of flesh and blood, but merely in one that seemed to be human; hence this heresy does not deny Christ outright, but diminishes, reduces, dethrones, dilutes and devalues his person and deeds; (3) false confidences (2:20–23) which teaches not to ‘touch this or taste that or handle something’(cf. House 1992a:57 ff; Vaughn 1978:168). Paul wrote the letter to the Colossians, while the line between Christianity and Judaism was already drawn, but the syncretistic tendencies in the order of the worship service, including the church worship music, needed attention (cf. Detwiler 2001:1; Dunn 1996:236; Martin 1982:51). In Table 1 the syncretistic tendencies are illustrated.

TABLE 1: Worship music and the Colossian heresy.

The ultimate point: The reformation and/or transformation of human doxology

Though sin defiled, distorted and corrupted the image of God in humanity, it was neither eradicated, eliminated nor destroyed (Gn 9:6; 1 Cor. 11:7; Ja 3:9; cf. also the Canons of Dordt, Article 4). It needs redemption and restoration which was already anticipated in the Old Testament that it will be fulfilled in Christ (cf. Lightfoot 1892:143 ff; Vaughan 1978:182). Such an redemption or restoration process includes the worship music which is part of our God-given cultural mandate. Sin continues to defile, distort, and corrupt worship songs and music, but it is neither eradicated and eliminated, nor destroyed. The process of making, developing, shaping, and producing is and should be viewed as part of the renewed cultural mandate of restoring the sound – its waves and properties, the human larynx, wood, metal, and reed. In this regard, God calls and enables specific individuals within and outside the corporate church, to ‘make music’ as part of restoring our cultural mandate. As articulated by Verkuyl (1981:38), Kritzinger, Meiring and Saayman (1994:36), Christ’s church exists by creation right (which includes the mandate mandate) (cf. Gn1:26 ff; 2:15 ff) and redemption right (which include a the commission mandate) to fulfil three goals. To glorify God (gloria Dei) is the first and the ultimate goal (cf. Piper 2010:232; Van Wyk 2019 Parallel Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 1:1) to plant and edify the church (plantatio ecclesiae) is the mediate goal; and to call people to conversion (conversion gentium), by proclaiming (the Hebrew word basar is equivalent to euangelizomai [to bring good news]), that is, by making a declaration (cf. exangello in the LXX version of Ps 9:14) of God’s character and conduct, and doing this also in doxological songs (Kaiser Jr. 2000:34; Wright 2010:246) is the third goal.

Human doxology as a response to Yahweh, the personal God of the Bible

God valued and approved of his creation as ‘good’, six times (cf. Gn 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21 & 25) and as ‘very good’ at its completion (cf. Gn 1:31; Wright 2006:399). All of humanity are made in God’s image, not only with intrinsic nature of the inner core and essence of our being (cf. Gn 1:27; cf. also Lightfoot 1892:144–148), but also with extrinsic possession, as each human has a creation right and the capacity to be addressed by and be accountable to God, and is aware of God’s communication (Wright 2006:421, 422). A human (whole) being as a thinking, feeling, and acting being, responds to God even through worship music. God’s call to love him with all his being, including the emotions, will and mind, is a call to obey his first and greatest commandment (Mt 22:37). In Scriptures the ‘heart’ is the undivided, integral centre of one’s entire being, and it is addressed by and responsible to God (Ps 9:1; 24:3–4a; 15; 73:1; 103:1–2; 119:9). The heart represents the entire human being – body, mind, will, emotions, spirit, and action. The separation of the heart (emotions) from the head (mind) is an unnatural division and a distortion and it has consequences for worship music. The Psalms are the models for human prayer, praise, and piety.

Through worship and worship music, human beings are made whole, and all elements of the heart are integrated. The Psalms point human beings in the right direction. They call upon human beings to worship God holistically and hence to witness to the integration of the head, the heart, and the hand. The Psalms address the whole person and call for a response from one’s whole being to the majestic revelation of God as the Creator and Sustainer of the universe. Therefore, it is misleading to view the human body and music (including musical instruments like drums) and all that is associated with emotional expression, as intrinsically inferior or evil (Wilson-Dickson 1992:23). Due to sin, the human body and music (including musical instruments) are misdirected and hence confirm that the fall of Adam and Eve into sin defiled and distorted the view of the cosmos. It includes the knowledge that humanity is the image of God, as well as the possibility that humanity can communicate with God through music. However, the good news is that the intrinsic values of the cosmos have remained intact, and we still can know that humanity is the image of God, and that we are called to communicate with God through music. This knowledge has been distorted, but not eradicated, by sin. In Christ it should be restored, reinstated, and redeemed (Gn 9:6; 1 Cor. 11:7; and Ja 3:9; cf. also the Canons of Dordt, ch.3/4, Article 4). It is unfortunate that Plato singles out the mind and reason when he claims that a proper melody elevates the mind to pursue the invisible and speculative world of form, beauty, harmony and order (Hodges 2010:3–4). He does so at the expense of musical expressions as practised by non-westerners because those who hold Plato’s views on music regard non-westerners as inferior on the scales of cultural and religious development, and their music as inherently evil (cf. Conn 1984:35, 55, 85; Fowler 1995:20 ff).

The scope of the human doxology from the creation to the recreation of the world

Table 2 illustrates the correlation between God’s major missional event and human doxology, from the creation to the recreation of the world. Bosch (1991:512) points out six (6) major salvific events in the New Testament, namely ‘the incarnation of Christ, his death on the cross, his resurrection on the third day, his ascension, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, and the parousia’. The selected texts in Table 2 indicate the time between the missio Dei [God’s new acts] and the angelic worship songs (in response to them).

TABLE 2: God’s new moves and the scope of creation doxology.
The nature of the human doxology

Some biblical worship songs are described as ‘new songs’ (cf. Table 3). The descriptive word, ‘new’ (Ps 33:3; 40:3; 96:1; 98:1; 144:9;149:1; Is 42:10; Rv 5:9 & 14:3) does not denote a newly composed tune, but expresses new events in God’s mission and reign, which are then responded to by worship songs directed to God, who reveals a new experience, new reality, new harmony, new reliability, new eschaton and a new creation (Bartlett & Taylor 2010:83; Brueggemann 1995:22). These ‘new songs’ are evoked when the big picture, which is the missio Dei, is apprehended. According to Horton (2002:125, 139), singing a new song is evoked by a taste of the powers of the age to come, and it is a significant aspect of worship. Horton (2002:125) elaborates that eschatology is about events to come and about what has happened and is happening. Eschatology attends to God’s unfolding plot from beginning to end, and its answers are a significant aspect of worship. In Job 38:7 the worship song of angels is the first and oldest song, and it accompanied and celebrated God’s new work of creation (cf. Table 3). The angelic worship songs are as old as the universe and hence their earliest biblical record appears in Job 38:7.

TABLE 3: God’s new moves and the nature of creation doxology.

All the angels in unison are the first singers as agents of worship songs, who keep on praising God as their highest purpose, as they respond to their creation (cf. Job 38:7; Ps 135:3; 147:1). In the New Testament the two terms, which referred to all angels, are morning stars and sons of God by their creation right, and all are in the plural. Those two terms are distinct from two terms that referred only to Christ, namely ‘bright morning star’ and ‘Son of God’ by birthright, and all are in singular. Such distinction is indicated in Table 4 (cf. Rv 2:28; 22:16; 2 Pt 1:19). Christians are called the children of God by their adoption right. As voices and priests of creation, human beings are secretaries of praise for the rest of creation, for in humanity the creation, which is inarticulate yet never silent, becomes articulated (Begbie 1991:177 ff).

TABLE 4: Christ and the agents of human creation doxology.
The manner of the human doxology

In Job 38:7 the manner of singing is described. The song of all angels accompanied and celebrated God’s work of creation from its very beginning (cf. Table 4). In doing so, they testified to the power, wisdom and goodness of Yahweh, as the sole Creator, Redeemer and Restorer of creation, and thereby contradicted Ancient Near Eastern accounts of creation as the outcome of divine malevolence. The highest purpose of the song of all angels was to praise (Ps 147:1), worship and glorify the Lord, his name, attributes, and mission (Ps 135:3).

The agents of the human doxology

See Table 4 which provides an outline and description of these agents.

The chief end (ultimate purpose) of human doxology

[T]he chief end of God is to glorify God and enjoy Himself forever. (cf. Piper, Let the nations be glad!)

God makes himself His end – in seeking that his glory and excellent perfections should be known, esteemed, loved, and delighted in by his creatures. (Edwards, The works of Jonathan Edwards, vol. 1, p. 805)

The basis (foundation) and the ultimate (chief) end is the purpose of all creational and human doxology in and through every activity, great and small, such as eating and drinking (1 Cor 10:31) and worship music (cf. Eph 5:19; Col3:16). Paul agrees with the Psalmist’s doxological statement, by saying ‘Let them praise the name of the Lord: for his name alone is excellent; his glory is above the earth and heaven’ (cf. also Ml 1:11). That is the ultimate end that God designed and created the universe for (cf. Ps 19:1; 43:6; 49:3; 148:1 ff; Rm 11:36), including in calling his people (cf. Eph 1:4 ff) and hence his church (cf. Ps 96:3 ff; Mt 5:16; 1 Pt 2:9;) based on the redemptive work of Christ on the cross for God’s glory (cf. Jn 12:27 ff; 17:1) and through his Spirit, God plans to fill the universe with his glory (Hab 2:14; Jn 16:16; Rv 21:23).


This article reviews the doxological motivation of and for the church’s mission from a reformational perspective. It became clear that the human tendency is positioning themselves, or other beings or things in the centre of God’s story and mission. This article contributes to the finding of the precepts, patterns, and practices for the effective and efficient missional worship of God through church music. In that regard, understanding the doxological motivation behind the church’s missional music and its relevance in missional worship of God is important. This attempt is not only helpful in handling misconceptions regarding the human tendency of positioning themselves, or other beings, or things in the centre of God’s story, worship, and mission, but also in restoring the proper doxology at the centre of worship of God through music. In that regard, this article addressed many aspects including the ANE religions, who claimed that the forces of nature are the main sources of sound, even of music and songs, and the Ancient Greek Cosmology of claiming that the power of ideals and forms are the main sources of sound, music and songs.

Sin continues to defile, distort, and corrupt worship songs and music, but it is neither eradicated, eliminated, nor destroyed (cf. Gn 9:6; 1 Cor. 11:7; Ja. 3:9; the Canons of Dordt, Article 4). Therefore, the process of making, developing, shaping, and producing is and should be viewed as part of the renewed cultural mandate of restoring the sound – its waves and properties, the human larynx, wood, metal, and reed. In this regard, God calls and enables specific individuals within and outside the corporate church to participate with him in completing the cultural mandate, including the mandate ‘to make music’. In this regard, as part of restoring our cultural mandate, as articulated by Verkuyl (1981:38), Kritzinger et al. (1994:36), Jesus Christ’s church exists by the creation right (wich includes the mandate mandate; cf. Gn 1:26 ff; 2:15 ff) and the redemption right (which includes the commission mandate) to fulfil three goals. These goals are, firstly, to glorify God [gloria Dei] as the first and the ultimate goal (cf. Piper 2010:232; the Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 1, Question 1); secondly, to plant and edify the church [plantatio ecclesiae] as a mediate goal; and thirdly, to call people to conversion [conversion gentium], by proclaiming (the Hebrew word basar is equivalent to euangelizomai [to bring good news], that is, by making a declaration (cf. exangello in LXX version of Ps 9:14) of God’s character and conduct, and doing this also in doxological songs (Kaiser Jr 2000:34; Wright 2010:246).

The doxological motivation of and for the church’s mission from a reformational perspective is achievable by taking into consideration the scope, the nature, the manner, and the ultimate purpose of human doxology. This is namely our human response (including in and through worship songs and music) to Yahweh, the true, personal, and living God who revealed himself in and through creation, history, Scripture, in Christ and by his Spirit (cf. Rm 1:20 ff; 2:14 ff). In that way, missional reformation and transformation of our worship songs and music are ensured for our internal and external witness in and outside the church in this polarised multi-cultural context of South Africa and beyond.


This article is partially based on T.A.M.’s thesis entitled ‘Glocal mission paradox - Handling disputable liturgical music - a case study of Good News Community Church in Hillbrow, Johannesburg’ towards the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Missiology at North-West University Potchefstroom in October 2017, with promoter Prof. Dr P.J. Buys. It is available at: https://repository.nwu.ac.za/bitstream/handle/10394/26324/Muswubi%20TA%20-%2010898298.pdf?isAllowed=y&sequence=1.

Firstly, to the Triune God be all the glory (1 Cor 10:31 & Col.3:17). Secondly, to Alvinah (my wife, for her Proverb 31 support), to Ms Blanch Carolus (academic support) and my children Vhuhwavho, Mufulufheli, Wompfuna, Thamathama, Lupfumopfumo and Tshontswikisaho (family support).

Competing interests

The author declares that they has no financial or personal relationships that may have inappropriately influenced him in writing this article.

Author’s contribution

T.A.M. is the sole author of this research article.

Funding information

This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.

Data availability

Data sharing is not applicable to this article as no new data were created or analysed in this study.


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1. According to Mordomo (2014:145 ff), God in his sovereign wisdom created the universe for himself, to reflect his glory and hence deserves, desires and demands to be known, loved and worshipped by his creation (both human and nature) in all areas of life (cf. Ps 96:3–4; 148:9–11; Is 48:9–11; Ml 1:11; 1 Cor 10:31; Col 3:17; 1 Pt. 1:15 ff; 2 Pt 1:3).

2. It is claimed that Baal was subjected to the fate of having to die every year (as was Tammuz of the Babylonians, and Sandon of the Hittites). It was the function of Anath to conquer the god Moth every year to revive Baal, to be united to him and thus to inaugurate the rainy season every autumn (Eichrodt 1961:542; Jacob 1962:47f).

3. Dickens (1969) points out that the word therapy is derived from a Greek verb therapeuein which means ‘to take care of’ and its noun therapeia, meaning ‘service and treatment’.

4. The Colossian heresy grew out of the melting pot of culture and religions in Asia Minor. In the Colossian pluralistic context, Christians developed a receptivity for the inclusion message (Green 2003:163). The Colossian heresy was nurtured by Jewish-Hellenism and emerged as proto-Docetism, an early form of Gnosticism, which emerged later and according to Gnostic texts, was found in Nag Hammadi in Egypt in 1945 (Lightfoot 1879). To Bruce (1977:75), ‘the Colossian heresy may be described as a refashioning of the gospel, to fit it into the framework of a Jewish-Hellenistic syncretism’. The religious fusion (eclecticism) of Jewish legalism (asceticism) includes mystic worship of, or access to angels (cf. Martin 1973:10, 94), which involve (1) Asian Minor paganism on (2) the Greek philosophical superstructure, manifested in Jewish-Hellenistic syncretism (cf. House 1992a:56 & Lohse 1971:127).

5. In the 4th century AD, Jerome mistranslated the Hebrew ‘Ben Shaachar’ (Son of the Dawn, or Day Star) as Lucifer (light-bearer) in Isaiah 14:12 & Ezekiel 28:14. The mistranslation was adopted by translators of KJV (King James Version). They used Jerome’s Latin Vulgate not the Hebrew text. (cf. Woods 1911–1912:159; Payne 1999:2252; and Ellenburg 2000:918).

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