Monday, August 14, 2006

Contempory Praise and Worship Music: A call to arms or a chance to teach?

My Drama:

An ugly shadow has reared its head outside the door of my castle...of my refuge and the place I hope to live out my days on this fallen earth. The knights of the roundtable of my castle are merely discussing whether or not to let the shadow in the door, but I know that harm has already come if such a thing is being discussed.

The shadow is a chameleon known to convince Christians that it is really an innocuous and pleasant diversion...a "modern" version of the same. The shadow disguises itself as light and calls to people. It tricks them into thinking that more people will come if it is used. It has been described as the smell of sulphur by one respected man. It has also been called the "stick of dynamite in the deconstruction of evangelicalism" by another. Yet another voice urges,

"...rather than spring into the usual defensive posture, what we really ought to do is become leaders in the area of sanctification. We need to take the initiative- not just showing the truth of Lutheran teaching, but also its great practicality, to say nothing of its evangelical heart! Out of love for our Lord and his church, it's high time we put our rich heritage into action."

I know I've irritated some by claiming this would never happen in my refuge. Those of you who were irritated may now rejoice that I was wrong. Or you can help. Pray for my castle. Submit links to aid in the educational opportunity. Or just consider this a fun guessing game and take a stab at my riddle. What is the shadow whispering at the door of my refuge and my castle?

An Explanation

This is fun! I can't remember the last time I had several comments. Of course, now that I've confused my own fellow church member, Norman, I probably should explain.

As a post-evangelical, I admit I have an adverse reaction to Contemporary Praise and Worship music. My faith once depended on it, or so I thought, as part of an overall Christian lifestyle. When my foundation of sand began to quickly fall apart a few short years ago, I started to notice the lack of doctrinal soundness in many of the P&W choruses. Yet it's influence on me was so great that the very first thing I asked my pastor-to-be on my first visit to him was borderline insane:

"If I become a confessional Lutheran, can I still listen to the local Christian radio station?

To this day, I don't know how he didn't burst into laughter. Instead he replied that I would find the station on in his home from time to time. With that major concern out of the way, I was able to go on with the minor matter of adult catechism. During that wonderful summer of learning, I was able to leave behind my dependence on contemporary praise and worship music. I learned that faith is given to me by God and sustained by God alone through His Word.

The first time I worshiped as a prospective member at my new church, I was underwhelmed by the music offered to me. My thought went something like, "How will I be able to tolerate this for the rest of my life?" No wonder I thought that, considering that I was used to clapping, drums, singers raising their hands and waving, etc. Over the course of a few weeks, the rich scripturally based liturgy and the timelessly-true hymns of praise and worship taught me and my family. I soon fell in love with the rich heritage of worship and song that confessional Lutherans have passed on from generation to generation dating back to ancient days. Not surprisingly, I am one of the more enthusiastic defenders of traditional liturgical worship.

So, when the idea of a modern modern liturgy or a few contemporary praise songs harmlessly added to a weeknight service gets brought up by a few very well-meaning members, I hit the panic button. Don't they understand the harm that music can bring? Or is it just me? Am I just being unreasonable based on my own past mistakes of how faith is created and sustained? Will my objections cause harm to the faith of those who ask the question of why not? How do I communicate my concerns without insulting or offending? These are my questions.

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