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.

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