Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Contemporary Christian Music

I was just sitting here and thinking about the problems I have with the contemporary church. I see a growing trend in Baptist,especially Southern Baptist churches, towards contemporary worship and this is very troubling to me. Yesterday I was searching websites of different Baptist churches in Columbia,SC and all but one have some form of contemporary worship. The inventors and advocates of this new type of worship seem to have forgotten or were just plain ignorant of the regulative principle of worship, which our forebears believed in wholeheartedly. In the New Testament there is laid out for us what is to be included in our worship-prayers/praises, singing of psalms, hymns,and spiritual songs, and MOST importantly the preaching of the Word. We do not have license to add to these things in order to elicit a response from certain groups of people or to try and get more people into the church.

I believe most Christians today have a distorted or incorrect view of what worship really is. Worship is not performing for the Lord or whipping up the congregation's emotions by playing rock music with a Christian label on it. Nothing nauseates me more than to see or hear the phrases "worship team" or "worship experience" because everything in those phrases is geared towards me and not God. I often hear the question asked "How will we reach our youth or the unchurched unless we offer another style of worship?" Therein lies the problem-we are not to alter our order of worship to meet specific or felt needs of any group and certainly not to cater to the unregenerated. We expect our youth to sit in classrooms for 8 hours a day and gain intellectual knowledge but how dare we ask them to sit through a worship service without entertaining them. So, by the time they are adults they will be theologically and biblically illiterate unless the dialogue includes drama or cute little ditties. What rubbish! The simple answer is that the Holy Spirit calls people to a church, youth included, and convicts us of sin, not the vain imaginations, inventions and practices of men.

We are treading on very thin ice when we reject the order of worship handed down to us by centuries of Christians in favor of the latest trends. I have never been more disgusted as when I saw the promotion of 2 styles of worship as a matter of taste, as in what blend do you prefer.There it is again, what I prefer with no thought as to what God prefers.Have the advocates and promoters of contemporary worship ever stopped to think that if they are right about worship just being man's preference, then for 2,000 years the true church has had it all wrong. Another question I have is "If this new style of worship is OF God, then why has it split so many congregations?" Those of us that hold to traditional worship are often labelled as petty, legalists, pharisees, or just plain mean-spirited. We are asked how we can judge how someone else worships.Well, contrary to popular belief, we are to judge between right and wrong according to the Bible. Paul tells us that some day we will judge angels and admonished the church he was writing to because they could not judge simple things. I hear often that "God is doing a new thing and bringing people into the church." No, man is doing an old thing and dressing up or watering down the gospel to try and make the church a "relevant and safe place." The church and the gospel we are to proclaim to a lost world is relevant all by itself and the only way to be safe is to have your sins covered by the blood of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

The Reformers cleansed the church of these popish practices and beliefs about worship beginning in the 16th century and now we are almost all the way down the slippery slope to anarchy in worship. There are great principles at stake here that have been reduced to "preference." The worship of our most Holy God and Saviour has no more to do with our preference than does our salvation. I am strongly convicted that the Lord is not pleased with churches that reject His way of doing things in favor of what we are currently doing and then attempting to make Him responsible for it. The whole contemporary worship movement is a subculture within not only the Baptist church but other denominations as well.

Before I close let me relay this story to you. Recently, the pastor of a local Baptist Church spoke to a group of Presbyterians at their Wednesday luncheon over at First Presbyterian Church. Before he finished his message he admonished them(Presbyterians)for faithfully adhering to traditional worship and rejecting contemporary worship. I was embarrassed at his unscriptural admonishment and duly apologized to my Presbyterian friends for the lack of spiritual discernment in the Baptist church. As a pastor, he should know better, and every other pastor that has allowed contemporary worship into their church. I close by asking the question "What would our spiritual ancestors think if they were to visit our churches today?" Jeremiah 6:16 says "Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls." The last part of this verse is the modern church's response to this command from the Lord-"But they said, We will not walk therein." How sad!


Anonymous Mark said...

I disagree with you completely. Right off the bat you assume that God prefers "traditional worship". When I think of traditional worship I think of a pipe organ or piano being sung to with hymn books. If this is not what you are referring to then correct me but if this what you are referring to then I don't think it needs to be said that the church of 2000 years ago did not have organs etc. In fact when the organ was brought in as an instrument of worship it caused much controversy as well. It seems to me you are more upset that church is not catering to your preference than Gods. It has occurred to me a few times while listening to both sides of this debate that perhaps, just perhaps maybe God does not have a preference and his only desire is that we lift our hearts and voices to him as we worship. This can be done through either form of worship in my mind. Just because you find it harder to worship to "rock worship" does not mean that younger generation is having a hard time. This is the music that is listened to by them. I have seen young people singing their hearts for the Lord to "rock worship" and I hardly think that they would be so inclined had an organ been the accompanment (sp?) I would be interested to hear your response to this please post back.

11:57 AM  
Blogger carolinabaptist said...

I can assure you that I am not reducing worship to a pipe organ or a piano. My problem is how today's church views worship as compared to generations past. I don't care how sincere someone is, and that is usually the argument, you cannot convince me that it is the Lord's will for us to grow His church with rock bands. We used to have a higher view of worship, and a lot of Christians have succumbed to the Charismatic view of worship, a view which you appear to lean towards.

3:40 AM  

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