A NEW SONG
By Paul Proctor
October 29, 2003
“Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” - Titus 2:13-14
What is worship? As I understand it, worship is coming before the Lord as a holy and “peculiar people”, in obedience, humility, reverence, repentance and faith with an attitude of gratitude, to sing His praises, hear His Word, glorify His name and honor Him with all of our being for Who He is and what He has done.
Contrary to popular trends, worship is NOT getting together with anybody and everybody to party in Jesus' name and feel good about ourselves with intoxicating music and psychotherapy.
Clearly, the Lord does not want His own to look, act and sound like every other sinner in the street. He wants us to be different, distinctive, sanctified and holy so that everyone will know that we belong to Him and not the world. But, if we are indistinguishable from the world, we are worse than useless; we are an insult and an embarrassment and demonstrate that we are not His at all.
Why then, under the pretext of pragmatism, have we dedicated ourselves to making the church look, act and sound exactly like the unchanged, unrepentant and unregenerate world around us – essentially filling our fortresses with the enemy to make them FEEL like allies? How does that glorify God and forward the gospel of repentance and faith In Christ? Isn’t proclaiming our transformation and redemption from a lost and dying state into a “new creature” (2 Corinthians 5:17) what the psalmist meant by “Sing unto Him a new song…“ – to show the world that we are now a “peculiar people”, set apart for Him and Him only?
So, who’s learning whose song here? Who's proselytizing whom?
“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.” – 1st Peter 2:9
Is it that we are now afraid to be “peculiar” – ashamed of who we are and to whom we belong? Are we more comfortable as a harlot than a bride? If so, do we not deny Him in our disobedience?
“But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.” – Matthew 10:33
It’s not enough to just SAY that we are His and TELL the world that we are different. It must be evident in ALL that we think, say and do; otherwise, we are liars, hypocrites and mockers of God – hearers of the Word and not doers.
"Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven." - Matthew 7:21
In a recent Pastors.com article, Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Church and The Purpose Driven Life, was quoted as saying: “I believe that one of the major church issues [of the future] will be how we’re going to reach the next generation with our music.”
Did he say "reach" them with "OUR MUSIC"? That’s what record companies and rock stars do! Is that what Jesus sent US to do? Is that what transforms sinners from the old life into the new – "OUR MUSIC"? Did Jesus carry a band around with Him to help draw a crowd so He could “reach” His generation with a song? If it’s music that brings us to repentance and faith why didn’t Jesus round up 12 top-notch musicians to be His apostles and just sing to us? Why spend so much time lecturing everyone about the will of God? Is it because they didn't have amplifiers and electricity back then to make them “feel it”?
Haven't you heard? Haven't you seen the surveys? Lectures are boring and make people restless and uncomfortable. So, did Jesus have it all wrong? According to the new paradigm, He did. Today, instead of lectures we have lots of small group discussions about our feelings and opinions at church to help facilitate interaction and build better "relationships" with one another.
You see the implication here is that we need more therapy – not theology. That's what Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, George Barna, C. Peter Wagner and every other leader from the church growth movement would have you believe. But what do human feelings and opinions have to do with proclaiming the Word of God? What's more important – that we come to a consensus and bond with each other emotionally (Hegelian Dialectic) or obey God's Word even if no one else around us will?
Do you see what they're instructing the church to do here? Do you recognize the paradigm shift? Don't proclaim the Word of God. (Lecture/preach/teach, etc.) Let's “focus group” our FEELINGS and OPINIONS instead. And ALWAYS have lots of sensual music around to help facilitate the transition from the didactic to the dialectic. You see my friends; behind it all is an emphasis on MUSIC – not the Word of God. So, now you tell me; has the message changed?
“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” – Romans 10:17
Music, regardless of “style”, volume, tempo or instrumentation, simply cannot accomplish what proclaiming the Word of God can. It might draw and hold a larger crowd than a lecture, bring everyone to their feet in resounding applause and help us all FEEL better about ourselves, but if a sinner, bound for Hell, doesn’t care about the Word of God, there’s not a song in the world that can save him. He might scream "JESUS ROCKS!!!" at the top of his lungs during the band's closing number, but I doubt seriously he’ll take up his cross and follow Christ when the music stops and the hard times come – which brings me to the controversial question: What are these passion-filled, music-induced moments at seeker-services all about – teaching obedience to the Word of God or manipulating the emotions and behavior of the masses into communal cooperation?
Addressing an audience at Liberty University, Warren told the young people there just what they wanted to hear: “Get rid of the organ” and “speed up the tempo of the music“, adding, “The message doesn’t change, but the methods do”.
He told the crowd: “You can make more people mad with music than anything else in church”. OK – so, is THAT your “vision”, Pastor – make the old folks mad at church until they all leave so we can have a good time? Isn’t that why rebellious teenagers love it when their parents go out of town -- so they can turn the music up, turn the house upside down and have all their friends over to “party hearty”? Does anybody see the similarities here? What are we encouraging and accommodating at church with this kind of attitude; Christ-likeness?
In many re-invented churches across the country, this is EXACTLY what is happening. In a strange and sad irony, the “salt of the earth” is being trampled on and shoveled out the door because of their “traditions”. Is that how we honor our father and mother and all the elders of our generation – those whose years of service, dedication and spiritual investment built the very houses of worship now being renovated into party palaces of “Purpose and Passion”? Sounds like an organized rebellion to me.
Liberals always point to the Pharisees of Jesus’ time when they want to attack “tradition” and redefine it as evil. Why? - Because it serves an alternative agenda – a humanist plan for perpetual change, designed to curse the past and herald the future. Furthermore, they're using the rebellion of youth to accomplish it for them. Why do you think we always hear the liberal cliché, "The children are our future"? It is because they want the inmates to run the asylum so the dialectic can take over to bring about social change in the church through compromise. Compromise what? – God’s unchanging Word.
But Jesus wasn’t condemning “tradition” per se. He was condemning “perversion” – the Pharisee’s perversion of truth – the truth of God’s Word. Perverting God’s Word had been going on for so long that it BECAME THE TRADITION of the time. That in no way invalidates all things traditional. But unfortunately in the postmodern church, tradition, pardon the pun, is quickly becoming a thing of the past.
Beyond the moral and spiritual aspects of loud and fast music, there are health issues to be considered as well. When the human body experiences pain, it releases its own natural painkillers into the bloodstream called “endorphins”. As we all know, one of the side effects of painkillers is the high they produce.
Loud, sustained, pulsating and repetitive noise damages, not just the eardrum, but also the entire human body – especially frequencies below 100Hz and levels above 110dB. The more intense and unidirectional the sound waves are, the more cell damage we incur and the more painkilling substances our bodies release to anesthetize the pain. This is one of the reasons loud music is so appealing to young people at concerts; because they don’t just hear it – they FEEL IT and guess what -- it makes them high, which begs the question; are those attending “seeker” services with its loud music and revelry being nourished spiritually by their presence and participation or are they getting beaten up sonically to catch a buzz for Jesus? Would you call that a spirit-filled or endorphin-filled experience? I’d call it a drug-related incident.
Another substance that is released into the body when one is exposed to stress caused by loud noise is “adrenaline”. Ever hear the term “adrenaline junkie”? Among other things, loud music, like other stressful events and activities produces what is commonly referred to as an “adrenaline rush.” Adrenaline helps our bodies deal with the stress and trauma created by extremely loud and low sound waves that can brutalize concertgoers. Like endorphins, they too are a natural defense mechanism. If we repeatedly subject ourselves to noise levels that force our adrenal glands into overdrive and keep us pumped with adrenaline just to handle the aural and physical shock of a rock concert, we can not only become addicted to it, but also experience many of the adverse physical and emotional effects of withdrawal BETWEEN CONCERTS (seeker services) when we DON’T get the adrenaline we’ve been conditioned to crave – potentially making our daily lives AWAY from loud music, Hell on earth. That’s why we feel achy, fatigued, agitated and sometimes depressed the day after enduring a clamorous event. The adrenaline declines right along with the noise level leaving us in a less than desirable state.
Speaking at a “Building A Purpose Driven Church” seminar, Warren had this to say: “Loud, raucous music with a driving beat is the kind of music his folks listened to.” He said, “We are really, really loud on a weekend service ….I say, 'we're not gonna turn it down’. Now the reason why is baby boomers want to feel the music, not just hear it…”
But, you know, as sad and revealing as these remarks are – nothing prepared me for the following statement from Pastor Warren:
“To insist that all good music came from Europe 200 years ago; there’s a name for that - racism.”
Do you see what he’s doing here? Showing anything BUT “tolerance, diversity and unity”, (the driving doctrine of seekerism), Warren does what liberals ALWAYS do to traditionalists; he pulls the race card to try and not just elevate himself and his cause under a guise of humility and compassion but also shame his “stuck in the past” critics into silence with politically correct hyperbole and innuendo.
So, HEAD'S UP all you elderly and traditional Christians out there because taking exception to music at church that is spiritually, emotionally and physically unhealthy, now makes you a racist.
© 2003 Paul Proctor - All Rights Reserved
Paul Proctor, a rural resident of the Volunteer state and seasoned veteran of the country music industry, retired from showbiz in the late 1990's to dedicate himself to addressing important social issues from a distinctly biblical perspective. As a freelance writer and regular columnist for NewsWithViews.com, he extols the wisdom and truths of scripture through commentary and insight on cultural trends and current events. His articles appear regularly on a variety of news and opinion sites across the internet and in print. Paul may be reached at email@example.com
"It’s not enough to just SAY that we are His and TELL the world that we are different. It must be evident in ALL that we think, say and do; otherwise, we are liars, hypocrites and mockers of God – hearers of the Word and not doers."