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Title: No longer slaves : weak hamartiology in Bethel Music
Author: Kalveks, Tatiana
ISNI:       0000 0005 0292 1783
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2021
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Since 2009, Bethel Music has become one of the best-selling Christian worship outfits in the world. Bethel have produced a large number of pop worship songs, such as 'Forever' and 'No Longer Slaves,' that have been incorporated into contemporary worship services across the globe, as the pop idiom has become more popular in Christian worship. Critiques of pop worship music have, thus far, generally failed to identify any theological shortcomings of the musical idiom itself. In this thesis, I argue that the pop idiom of contemporary mainstream worship music conveys a weak hamartiology that undermines the ongoing relevance of the doctrine of sin, and subsequently instrumentalises worship in the pursuit of "tangible" assurance of salvation (for example through positive affect or charismata). I demonstrate this by presenting three musico-theological devices, ubiquitous throughout the genre, which Bethel Music utilise to this end: cosmic ambience, erotic infantilism and triumphalist climax. These devices are created using musical features such as harmony, rhythm, melody and instrumentation. This use of the pop idiom shapes Bethel's theological message in such a way as to actively hinder the communication of a more robust hamartiology. In making this argument, I combine musicological and theological analysis in a method unused, so far, in theological analyses of pop music. I begin by situating Bethel's Charismatic theology within the tradition of Methodism and Pentecostalism, before elucidating Bethel's distinctive hamartiology through a comparison with John Wesley's. I then outline the functions of pop worship, and three models of musical meaning. Two musico-theological chapters subsequently argue that Bethel's worship music conveys a therapeutic ambience that eclipses the significance of sin, and presents sin as a retrospective quality for justified Christians. I close with reflections on how Christian pop worship might strengthen its own doctrine of sin without abandoning the pop idiom.
Supervisor: Rasmussen, Joel Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Theology ; Sacred music ; Worship ; Music--Religious aspects ; Hamartiology