New Speaking Series on Marriage Week 3–Marriage & The Great Commission

Redeeming Marriage Week Three on Marriage and the Great Commission

Redeeming Marriage Week 3: Marriage and the Great Commission



This is a new series of conversations about marriage. These conversations search through what we know about marriage from a Christian worldview. This particular topic looks into Christ’s command to “go and make disciples” and sees how it can help our marriages become more missional.

This talk was given by Steve Whigham on September 27, 2015 at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Travelers Rest, South Carolina. You can find out more about Redeemer at

New Speaking Series on Marriage: Week 2 — Marriage & the Gospel

Redeeming Marriage Week Two Marriage and the Gospel

How the Christian Gospel can both inform and improve our marriages

This session discusses the importance of the Christian Gospel in the proper understanding of Christian marriage and what the Gospel can teach us to make our marriages stronger. It also discusses the important aspects of Christian love and how it differs from many other forms of love we see in our culture today.

This talk was given by Steve Whigham on September 20, 2015 at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Travelers Rest, South Carolina. You can find out more about Redeemer at

What the Bible
 Says about Music

man worshipingFilled with hundreds of verses on music, the Bible describes God’s people using music in a variety of ways: in community celebrations, in times of worship, in war, and even when alone. Music appears most in times of joy and merriment. Yet, there were times when music was used to calm, even lament. Most of the time music appears in the Bible when used for religious purposes. Even so, there are more than a few mentions of music being used for non-religious reasons, too, such as celebrating human love, feasts, community celebrations, and other non-religious gatherings.

How music sounded in the Bible we cannot be entirely sure. But we do know that music takes various forms. The Bible describes music being performed by humans through singing and the playing of instruments— many times together. Often, music is accompanied by dancing, sometimes aggressively and loudly, and the clapping or lifting up of hands. The human voice is referred to often as being part of music as singing, speaking, and as shouting: sometimes singly, sometimes in small groups, and other times in very large groups and choirs. Musical instruments used were many and varied, including: tambourines, cymbals, lyres, pipes, harps, trumpets, castanets, and string instruments among others. The Bible doesn’t give any prescriptions as to which musical instruments are appropriate for which occasion.

Both men and women performed music in the Bible. Sometimes they performed together, sometimes separately. Even religious leaders were at times instructed to be trained in music. Others were hired to be musical professionals and skilled in music, yet everyone was encouraged to actively participate. Even God sings.

The Bible encourages both the skillful playing of music and for all His creation to simply make a joyful noise. On several occasions the Bible encourages us to create and sing new songs. Throughout the Bible we see high emotional engagement when music was used. When used in worship, music should be intelligible.

When music is criticized in the Bible, the criticism is pointed to the evil intent behind the music and not necessarily at the quality, or type, of the music itself. Overwhelmingly, however, music is shown in a highly favorable light throughout the Scriptures. An entire book of the Bible, the Psalms, is a collection of songs originally written to be communicated through music.

In the New Testament we are instructed to encourage and address each other in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs in order for Christ’s words to dwell in us richly. Jesus sang with His disciples, the apostles employed music in their ministries, and we will enjoy music in heaven.

To see scriptural references used to form this essay, download this PDF:
What the Bible Says About Music Essay

Why Science Can’t Prove
 God’s Existence

And why theists (and atheists alike) should be totally cool with it.

God, atheism, apologetics, science, religion

“Why can’t I find God in my test data?”

If you are a theistic believer (Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, or other) and you are hoping that science will one day prove conclusively the existence of God, I’m here to tell you that you may be waiting for a very long time. Science won’t give you that satisfaction. Why? Because it can’t.

Whether God exists—or not—is a big deal. If he (or she, or it, or them) exists, then we owe it to ourselves to know who this God is (as much as is humanly possible) and find out if we have any personal and/or collective obligation to him. If God does not exist and we find out that he’s a mere figment of our imagination, then everything changes. All bets are off. And all the social conventions, mythologies, and moralities we have created based upon the false illusion of God’s dominion over universal affairs will need to be fundamentally reexamined. (more…)

The Embarrassing History 
of the CCM Debate

Why Our Current Arguments Stand on Rather Shaky Ground


CCM, drums, religion, fundamentalism, music, church music

“Is there any place for modern music in the modern-day church?”

In a small corner of Christianity there is a debate going on. It’s been raging for decades. And it has perplexed many. Shrill warnings have been shouted. Territorial flags have been unfurled. Battle lines have been drawn. And theological swords have been unsheathed. Most don’t even know what side to choose. The debate has scorched many pulpits, infiltrated the student manuals of Christian colleges, stuffed the shelves of local Christian bookstores, and bloated the blogosphere. Sometimes I wonder why I’m adding to the cacophony.

What is this debate topic? It’s about music. In particular it’s about Contemporary Christian Music (CCM). (more…)

The Sin Archipelago: Why We’re Often Wrong About What’s Right and Wrong

Aland island archipelago

Strange as it seems, there is something interesting about archipelagos that tells us a lot about the nature of sin.

Unless you are a professional oceanographer or a logophile who’s addicted to The New York Times Sunday crossword, the term archipelago (ar-ke-PEL-a-go) isn’t often used in conversation. At the risk of oversimplifying, an archipelago is a cluster of islands in a body of water like the Greek Islands, the Caribbean, the Hawaiian Islands, Japan, and Indonesia just to name a few. What’s fascinating about many archipelagos is that the islands we see jutting out of the ocean are actually land peaks or mountains from an underwater land mass submerged just underneath the ocean’s surface. For example, New Zealand’s islands are the highest peaks of a submerged continent called Zealandia that’s actually larger than the entire subcontinent of India. And Java, Borneo, and Sumatra are all peaks of a submerged landmass called Sundaland. In the southern Indian ocean there are a series of tiny island chains called the Kerguelen and McDonald Islands, that, when considered as part of the same underwater continent, the land mass is more than three times larger than all of Japan. On a common, two-dimensional map, islands such as these appear to be distinct and unrelated because their relationships are hidden by the surface of the ocean. But, when examined closely by the trained eye of a scientist, these islands are far from distinct. Instead, they are biologically interconnected, share identical geological characteristics and are unified by the same tectonic histories and destinies.

So why do I call this essay, “The Sin Archipelago”? Because there is something about archipelagos that have helped me understand the true nature of sin as it is understood by Christian Orthodoxy. In essence, all sins listed in the Bible are visible peaks (no matter how different or distinct they may appear at first) interconnected by a underlying, unifying land mass. And it is that common connection that ties together so many biblical themes and simplifies so much theology. (more…)

To Be Holy? Or To Love?

What's a poor sinner (like me) to do?

What’s a poor sinner (like me) to do?

I had a typical conversation with a good friend not too long ago on a cold Tuesday afternoon in Wisconsin. We were belly-aching about church, crazy things Christians do, the times we live in, and a host of random topics you routinely hear when Christians get together.

At one point, my friend asked me, “Steve, why is it you’re always yapping about love—‘The church needs to love more’ and ‘All we need to do is love better?’ Don’t you know that God is just as concerned that we live a life of holiness, too? Isn’t the church commanded to be salt and light? We need to be promoting righteousness, not just sentimental feelings. Christians can’t just go about ‘loving’ everyone and turn a blind eye to all the wickedness of our times. We need to balance love with holy living.”

Wow. I really didn’t have a good response. My first reaction was to defend my position, but I stopped from doing so. Right away, I began to doubt my assertion.

Maybe I have been off-kilter. Maybe I had overemphasized one Christian virtue to such a degree as to stretch and tear the whole cloth of the Christian faith.

Yes, we are to be salt and light. Yes, we should mourn over sin and injustice. Yes, we must be about promoting righteous living. But when is it most appropriate that we love? We are commanded to do that, right? But when, then, is it best to focus on holiness?

Taking Socrates’ Lead

Not long after, maybe a week or so later, I sat down one pre-dawn Saturday morning, trusted mug of coffee in hand, and tried to sort through my confusion. And, in deference to Socrates, I began my analysis by defining terms.


Could This Be the Beginning of the End
 for Christian Fundamentalism?


“Did you hear? Dr. Olson has been reinstated as President!” a friend of mine texted me on Friday morning, May 10th, while I was taking a break during a business meeting six states away. I had already suspected as much. I had just talked with Matt Olson earlier that week and with Daniel Patz a couple days before. Daniel, the grandson of the founder of the school, would, within the next few hours, become the newly minted Chairman of the Board of the small fundamental Baptist Bible College-slash-University in the Northwoods of Wisconsin called Northland International University.

Within the span of two short weeks, those final days leading up to graduation on May 11, 2013, Northland’s Board of Directors endured a power struggle so intense that its President, Dr. Matt Olson, was fired then rehired by the Board that was so discombobulated by the confusion that it ended up seeing a majority of its directors tendering their resignation.

The students, the faculty, the alumni, and the friends of this small university of no more than 500 enrollees felt as though they were on a roller-coaster ride. “It’s surreal,” proclaimed one fifteen-year member of the faculty. The overwhelming majority of the faculty and staff supported Dr. Olson. A few were lobbying for his dismissal. Even the fundamentalist blog sites like and were equally lit up by the controversy—some praising the action of the Board, some outright shocked and disgusted.

But, what caused the ruckus? Was it about a serious ethics violation or a misappropriation of funds? Was it another sex scandal? Nothing even close to that. Yes, the university was in a difficult financial pinch and enrollment was declining, and, yes, there were some concerns over a highly Orthodox, but non-fundamentalist-approved speaker in chapel, but those weren’t the primary provokers of action…

Primarily, the controversy was over music.

The administration of Northland International University had recently chosen to no longer demonize the use of contemporary styles of music within its community and on its campus. In fact, Northland’s student recruitment team had been present for, and even assisted with, a couple of Christian music concerts in its area, one of which featured Big Daddy Weave—a rather conventional Christian music group with a not-so-conventional-sounding name. This was enough to raise the ire of many fundamentalists. For many, it was enough to write Northland International University off their “approved list” of colleges and declare that Northland could no longer be considered a “fundamentalist institution.” Northland had crossed its Rubicon. It was time to shun and shame the school.

Is music that big of a deal to warrant shaking the foundation of a university noted for producing great Christian pastors, educators and missionaries who take the Gospel of Jesus Christ across the globe? If so, why? If not, how did Fundamentalism get to this point?