In this post, I reflected on the question of if a church worship service can ever be like a rock concert. Now, I’d like to take a look at a different angle.
Ed Stetzer recently published an interesting article in Christianity Today in which he asserts that the style of music has always been an issue of controversy. Sometimes we think that it’s just an issue of the last forty or so years, but he gives a few examples of how music has changed and brought much controversy:
In the 200’s, instrumental music was not used at all.
In the 1100’s, hymns began using rhyme and accent.
In the 1200’s, harmony was introduced.
In the 1500’s Martin Luther used melodies that were already familiar through folk songs and put Christian words to them.
In the 1700’s, Isaac Watts and Charles Wesley paraphrase Scripture and made them into hymns.
I’ll just say this briefly as a response. We often think that God has blue eyes. What do I mean by that? There are many groups that believe that the only kind of worship that God can possibly accept, is that which comes out of a hymn book, in which most of the songs were written several hundred years ago. In other words, the only kind of worship that is pleasing to God is that which comes from a European descent.
On some levels, this has ethnocentrism written all over it–the music that comes from my own culture and heritage is the best and most pleasing to God. Of course, there are many different cultures that love to sing out of a hymn book that are not of European descent. Although if you examine their history, they were probably taught to worship like that by early missionaries with a spirit of religious imperialism.
Does that mean I don’t like hymns? Not at all! I love a lot of hymns.
Since I took a jab at that side allow me to take a jab at the other side as well. On the flip side, some modern contemporary Christian music is quite self-centered: Jesus-is-my-boyfriend-and-He’ll-never-ever-ever-leave-me-because-He’s-also-my-lover-and-He-gives-me-warm-fuzzies. Through the use of how the music is played, it can create emotion which makes me like even the most theologically shallow or inconsistent song.
So what’s my point in all of this?
God is bigger than we give Him credit for and He refuses to be boxed in. Believers throughout the generations have been worshipping God in all kinds of ways that express who they are at a specific time, place, and culture. Does that mean that anything goes in worship music? I don’t think so, but I believe that every culture can express itself in ways that it believes are reverent and in a worshipful spirit, which may sound different from what I’m used to.
So count to ten. Breathe. And worship Him deeply. Oh, and make sure to check out the full article from Stetzer here.
Thoughts? (To leave a comment click here)