And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 22, Number
In this issue:
Joe R. Price
An article appeared in USA Today this week chronicling the battle among Protestant Churches over worship music (“Church music wars battle for souls with song,” Cathy Lynn Grossman, USA Today, Nov. 17, 2011). Grossman noted, “in many U.S. churches today, worship musicians bang the drums for God and singers croon as if Christ were their boyfriend.”
Rick Muchow (music pastor for the Saddleback Church founded by evangelist Rick Warren) is quoted as saying, “The Bible does not have an official soundtrack.”
“The nation’s fifth-largest Protestant church, with nine satellite locations, runs several concurrent worship services Sunday mornings at its main site in Lake Forest, Calif., each with a different genre of music.
“Muchow lists: a Gospel praise service; a “straight-ahead rock” called Overdrive; one called Fuel that’s “geared to 20-somethings with more alternative music;” and a Traditions service with piano and a singer. Traditions is the only service using hymnals.” (Ibid)
Muchow uses the classic defense for denominationalism to justify this buffet of worship music: “There are all different kinds of churches for different kinds of people. We don’t worship music, we worship God.” (Ibid)
This sentiment is echoed by Tommy Kyllonen,
“also known as Urban D, the Christian hip-hop artist pastor behind Tampa’s Crossover Church, is down with the new music.”
“We have a big world and a big God. As long as people are worshiping in spirit and in truth, we can worship in any way that reaches our hearts, he says. After all, the Bible calls for believers to ‘sing a new song to the Lord.’” (Ibid)
Self-defined “spirit” and self-defined “truth.”
These “music wars” are not limited to America. A Lutheran Church in Sweden now offers “techno Mass:”
Klemenjak makes no apology for using faddish music to attract young people:
Christians are not immune to the seductive calls to accommodate worship to meet their emotional desires. We must be biblically informed and faithfully committed to true worship, not to will worship that is arranged and offered by men (Jno. 4:24; Col. 2:23). So, let us briefly examine these worship music “wars” in the light of Scripture.
“The Bible does not have an official soundtrack”
Far from Mr. Muchow’s claim, the word of God does reveal “an official soundtrack” for worship: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Col. 3:16, emp. JRP).
Psalms are sacred or pious songs, and immediately remind us of the inspired selections in the Old Testament book of Psalms. The Bible says when a Christian is cheerful to “let him sing psalms,” not “club music” that rocks the joint in the name of Jesus (Jas. 5:13)!
Hymns are songs of praise addressed to God. As such, they must be reverent, holy, and humble – a far cry from the “straight-ahead rock” heard at Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church. When Paul and Silas were imprisoned at Philippi they were “singing hymns” (praises) to God - not hip hopping to a techno-beat (Acts 16:25). David prophesied of the Messiah (fulfilled in Jesus), “in the midst of the assembly I will sing praise (humneo) to you” (Psa. 22:22; Heb. 2:12). Who can envision Jesus with hands waving and rock music blasting, hip-hopping hymns to the Father in heaven? Such blasphemy offered by men is not true worship (Jno. 4:24).
Spiritual songs (odes or chants) are songs of spiritual rather than fleshly content. These songs do not excite fleshly actions and appetites (like dancing to club music does). Instead, they focus the mind on spiritual and eternal things. Christians are not to be carnally-minded (controlled by the flesh), but spiritually-minded (controlled by God’s Spirit-revealed law, Rom. 8:5-9). The “contemporary” worship music offered up by denominations and megachurches do not meet the Bible test of “spiritual” songs.
“Different churches, people, and music”
In striking contrast to the ecumenical plea to “join the church of your choice”, the Bible says there is “one body” (the church of Christ, Eph. 4:4; 1:22-23; Matt. 16:18). The issue is not that people are different, it is that “you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28). We do not have the right to build different churches and offer God music that is different from what Christ approves in His gospel. Christ is our ultimate authority, not Moses, not David, and not our contemporary styles and preferences (Matt. 28:18-20; 17:5). When the word of Christ dwells richly in one’s heart, the authority of Christ is obeyed in all things, including the music used in worship of God (Col. 3:16-17).
“Sing a new song to the Lord”
In both Revelation 5:9 and 14:3 a “new” song is sung, but not like those sung by “Urban D!” The new song is sung before the throne of God, praising the Lamb for His worthiness to redeem sinners (5:9). Then, a new song is sung by the redeemed in a triumphant scene of glory (14:3). The fresh, new nature of redemption’s song is emphasized.
There is nothing “new” about sinful attempts to worship God as seen in today’s churches. God rejects heart-devised worship (Jeroboam, 1 Kgs. 12:25-33). Let us all take heed lest we worship at Jeroboam’s altar.
(Reprint: The Spirit’s Sword, Nov. 20, 2011)
You can find the complete outline of this sermon plus PowerPoint and MP3 Audio files at BIBLE ANSWERS
Do Not Let Worship Become Commonplace
Scripture Reading: Revelation 4:8-11
1. God seeks and only accepts true worship, Jno. 4:23-24.
I. AN EXEMPLARY WORSHIP GATHERING, Neh. 8:1-12.
Day to the Lord, Neh. 8:1-2, 9. Lev. 23:23-25; Heb. 10:24-25; Acts 20:7
(Current events in the light of Scripture)
New Methodist Denomination
Joe R. Price
The progressive (left) wing of the United Methodist Church has grown impatient with putting off fracturing the UMC “according to beliefs on LGBTQ ordination and same-sex marriage. The split was to be decided upon at the 2020 General Conference, but due to COVID-19 shutdowns, the conference was cancelled and the decision postponed until next fall at the earliest” (Progressive United Methodists Announce New Denomination: Liberation Methodist Connexion, christianheadlines.com). On November 29 they announced the formation of a new Methodist denomination, the Liberation Methodist Connexion (LMX).
“‘The timeline of the Holy Spirt is driving our decision to launch LMX at this moment, and we are responding to that call,’ the Rev. Althea Spencer-Miller said during a presentation Sunday evening following the denomination’s first online worship service.” (Ibid) The LMX website explains, “We are a grassroots denomination of former, current, and non-Methodist faith leaders working on the unfolding of the kin-dom of God. We intentionally invite the full participation of all who are living out their God-given identities and expressions.”
The current UMC is not liberal enough for them. Anything goes in the LMX; you live your own identity and expression, say you have the presence of the Holy Spirit, and it’s all good! (Gender and sexual identity, monogamous, non-monogamous, and the use of drugs are some of these expressions.) “Correct doctrine is less important to the new denomination than correct action, collaborators said during Sunday’s presentation” (religiousnews.com). No kidding (Rom. 1:18-32).
Calling evil good and claiming God is with you is not a new expression (Isa. 5:20-21). Thus it has always been when humans corrupt God’s word and God’s church (Matt. 16:18; Gal. 1:6-10; Eph. 5:1-14; Gal. 5:19-21).
Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated. 12/06/2020
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA