Well, it seems that my blog post I wrote last week concerning the dangers of performing secular music in worship struck a cord. (No pun intended). I’m glad that it did. I didn’t write the post for the hope that only a few people would read it. The post received nearly 1,000 page views in the first two days of being published. Obviously, it covered a subject that many people have an interest in reading about.
I wasn’t quite sure how it would be received. I expected a few “you’re just a hater” comments or “you should speak more about what you’re for than what you’re against.” Concerning the latter, I wrote a post about that here. In short, this “you should be about what you’re for” has become a common refrain in evangelical circles. To sum up my earlier post on said subject, my conclusion was if you are “for” one thing you will necessarily be “against” the other. To not teach or preach what you are for and what you are against is to not be honest with people. Just preaching good news, telling others what you’re for, and encouraging them is not the whole Gospel. Nor is it our job as pastors to only offer hope without offering the need for hope. The scandal of the cross must be preached as much as the grace and love of the cross. Hope exists because without Jesus there is absolutely no hope.
But I digress. I came across this article that goes a little deeper into what I was speaking about concerning the usage of secular music in worship. The author here equates “worldly” elements of worship (whether it be fowl language from the pulpit/stage, performing secular music, etc) as essentially idolatry. Whether the impetus of such approaches arise out of the desire to be relevant, authentic, or just plain cool, when we make unbelievers (as well as believers) comfortable by giving them a taste of the world, we are, in essence, leading them into idolatry. What I mean by this is that by not singing ALL songs about God and Christ (and instead singing secular and other praise songs which put the emphasis on man and not God’s Work) we are leading people to worship their feelings. We are leading people to worship their version of Christianity (and not always Jesus Christ).
I recognize that this is a serious accusation when it comes to how pastors and worship leaders actually lead people in worship. As worship leaders, we are to lead people in worship. But in worship services where Jesus and his work on the cross is scarcely mentioned in the sermon or even sung about, to whom are we leading the people to worship? As I mentioned in a previous post, the default and preferred religion of Americans is Moralistic Therapeutic Deism. In modern worship services there usually are some veiled references to some God who can help you do some thing in life. Have joy, success, freedom, happiness. These are the things MTD churches teach. But the Gospel (the full truth of what Jesus accomplished on the cross) escapes the teaching. Partly, this is true because pastors no longer preach about Hell. Forget the fact that Jesus himself taught on Hell more than any other prophet or teacher in the Bible. A common refrain among evangelical pastors is often, “We just want to talk about Jesus and be like Him.” Well, he spoke about Hell!
What we see with so many modern churches is a capitulation of doctrine and truth so that we may not offend anyone. But, Christianity is offensive. The essence of Christianity is essentially: God created the world. He created you. You sinned. You broke his law. You deserve Hell. Jesus rescues you from Hell if you repent and follow Him. In Him, you then receive abundant life on earth and eternal life in Heaven.
This is the truth by which we must preach. This is the truth by which we must sing. This is the truth by which we must worship.