Wednesday, November 28, 2007

C.S. Lewis on Pride

"How is it that people who are quite obviously eaten up with Pride can say they believe in God and appear to themselves as very religious? I am afraid it means they are worshipping an imaginary God. They theoretically admit themselves to be nothing in the prescence of this phantom God, but are really all the time imagining how He approves of them and thinks them far better than ordinary people: that is, they pay a pennyworth of imaginary humility to Him and get out of it a pound's worth of Pride towards their fellow-man. I suppose it was of those people Christ was thinking when He said that some would preach about Him and cast out devils in His name, only to be told at the end of the world that He had never known them. And any of us may at any moment be in this death-trap."
-C.S. Lewis in "Mere Christianity"

Reading this today hit me like a brick in the face. How often have I credited to myself by being Prideful what I should be paying to God in humility, all the while not being the wiser that I was in error? Some scriptures to add to this:

"Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. Better it is to be of a humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud" Proverbs 16:18-19

"For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world."
1 John 2:16

I admit, I think I realized why I like C.S. Lewis so much. Its not what he says so much as how he actually says it. The man had no theological education after all and quotes no scripture through 191 pages of an apologetic for Christianity, which would normally irk me. But, as I have to remind myself; this book arose from a series of radio broadcasts that were reaching a largely unchurched audience, and Lewis has a firm grasp of Christianity from a philisophical point of view. Since he was a professor of Literature his command of the English language and colorful use of metaphor and analogy is outstanding and always enjoyable to read.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

worship, feminism, and evangelicism

The TV was on in the background today while I was working on the computer, when a broadcast of a particular megachurch's church service came on and I begun half-watching it at first and then it took my attention completely when......

their worship leader SANG THE LORD'S PRAYER as a SOLO, and did it like he was Whitney Houston singing at the Super Bowl at halftime or like most singers do when they butcher the National Anthem before sporting events trying to hit every note within their range. And I guess it would not have been complete without the breathy, molest-the-microphone vocal technique, some super effeminate hand gestures and operatic body language to boot as well!
Is this what church leadership wants out of music leaders these days? It kinda gave me the creeps watching it, to be honest. Somehow, I imagine even David "dancing in the spirit" (Psalm 30) probably appeared much more manly than this did. When did worship in the evangelical church become so ...FEMININE?
To contrast with this image I like to imagine Martin Luther over 400 years ago, as he paraphrased the 46th Psalm and wrote "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God" probably furiously scrawling the words by hand which would become what has been called the "Battle Hymn of The Protestant Reformation".

And though this world, with devils filled, Should threaten to undo us, We will not fear, for God hath willed, His truth to triumph through us! A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing!

I imagine people singing that song hundreds of years ago in Whittenburg, set to an even older common German tune, singing with passion and strength; renewing their faith in the power of God. Well, fast forward 400 years and travel across the pond, and in American Evangelicism we have taken worship and turned it into sentimental music for the sake of entertaining the masses, music thats more about giving us a cathartic experience or garnering an emotional response than truly illuminating God's Word and submitting our hearts to a humble attitude of worship and singing of the character of God.

  • We've traded classic hymnody for feel-good contemporary worship
  • We've traded "A Mighty Fortress is Our God" for "Shout to the Lord" and other songs that scarcely even mention the person of Christ or our sin and need of grace and supplication
  • We've traded "Come thou fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing thy grace" for "He has made me Glad, I will rejoice for he has made me glad"

    and along the way I fear we have also......

  • Traded powerful expository preaching for visually appealling power point presentations because out attention span has dimished, psuedo-Christian psycological mumbo jumbo and sentimental slogans to bolster confidence among worshipers.
  • We've traded applying the Bible to real life issues for underminding the scripture in the name of tolerance and diversity, as in the Emergent Church Movement and those who look to postmodernism for their worldview rather than scripture.
  • We've traded engaging and defining the culture for running from it and its "evils", or merely replicating it and slapping a Christian logo on it for our own censored consumption, as in much of Fundamentalism and much of the American "Youth Group" culture.
  • Worst of all we've traded the often offensive Truth of Christ's message for the illusive goal of not turning anyone away from the Gospel, in those who creep further and further down the slippery slope of Liberalism toward Universalism.

  • I only hope that the ecclesiastical slump that we are in now brings about a turn towards a thirst and hunger for something more substantial.

    Saturday, November 24, 2007


    This past year I've been overjoyed to discover Reformed University Fellowship's hymn project called Indelible Grace where they re-work old hymns, some by writing completely new tunes or just by giving it a fresh sound with contemporary instruments. Their third cd "For All The Saints" contained a song by hymnwriter Thomas Pollock that I liked so much that I looked him up and found the only other hymn he ever had published., and sadly these days about the only place to find it is the old Presbyterian Trinity Hymnal.
    I'm currently working on a new tune for it. Here's the words:

    "We Have Not Known Thee as We Ought" Thomas Pollock 1889
    We have not known Thee as we ought,
    Nor learned Thy wisdom, grace and power;
    The things of earth have filled our thought,
    And trifles of the passing hour.
    Lord, give us light Thy truth to see,
    And make us wise in knowing Thee.

    We have not feared Thee as we ought,
    Nor bowed beneath Thine awful eye,
    Nor guarded deed and word and thought,
    Remembering that God was nigh.
    Lord, give us faith to know Thee near,
    And grant the grace of holy fear.

    We have not loved Thee as we ought,
    Nor cared that we are loved by Thee;
    Thy presence we have coldly sought,
    And feebly longed Thy face to see.
    Lord, give a pure and loving heart
    To feel and know the love Thou art.

    We have not served Thee as we ought,
    Alas, the duties left undone,
    The work with little fervor wrought,
    The battles lost or scarcely won!
    Lord, give the zeal, and give the might,
    For Thee to toil, for Thee to fight.

    When shall we know Thee as we ought,
    And fear and love and serve aright?
    When shall we, out of trial brought,
    Be perfect in the land of light?
    Lord, may we day by day prepare
    To see Thy face and serve Thee there.

    Friday, November 23, 2007

    My First Post

    Well this is my first post and first of all, with no small amount of thought involved, would like to explain my intent and purposes for having a blog. After all, I don't fancy my life or experiences (as contented as it may be at times) as exciting and worth writing about for others to read. People have their own lives and I do not wish to provide a window into personal details of my daily life or my family's. Frankly I have never had a page for that very reason. But from time to time I find myself with no outlet as to my thoughts, as well examined or random as they might be. Hence this blog, for better or worse. It is my hopes someone might find it interesting.