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Posts Tagged ‘God-Centered Worship’

T. David Gordon just wrote a new book entitled Why Johnny Can’t Sing Hymns: How Pop Culture Rewrote the Hymnal. I read a bit of it and it looks pretty good.  We need good books on this issue.

One of his points is that we often approach the topic of corporate worship while getting off on the wrong foot. We ask the question, Is it lawful? And then if the answer is yes, we assume that it is also, therefore, beneficial. According to Paul (1 Cor. 10), we must realize this isn’t good theology or methodology.

Next, there is the concept of contemporaneity.  Gordon makes the point that all throughout church history certain scriptural, literary, and musical criteria were involved in determining whether music was to be acceptable for worship. In fact, even in Charles Wesley’s day, the criteria were so rigorous that only one half of one percent of all his songs were published in the hymnal for the Methodist Church. Unimaginable one might think! Well, I guess we just have a lot better writers today.

So what has changed? Why is contemporaneity esteemed as the end-all-be-all? Gordon asks:

Why are there not signs outside churches that read: “Theologically Significant Worship,” or “Worship Appropriate to a Meeting between God and His Assembled People,” or “Worship That Is Literarily Apt and Thoughtful”? Why do the signs say “ContemporaryWorship,” as though that criterion were itself worthy of promoting?

To be sure, some tough-hitting (but much needed) questions are to be found in this book.

One last point, however, is worth noting. Gordon says the significance this issue is compounded when we recognize the emotional intensity we can feel about the music we love, and secondly, that this emotional intensity is connected to the worship of God — something we care very much about. Bring our sinfulness into the mix and we have nearly instantaneous and unavoidable combustibility.

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What really is true preaching?

Is it basically teaching on doctrine? Or is it moral exhortation? What’s the difference?

Michael Horton digs into this question in his excellent book, A Better Way: Rediscovering the Drama of God-Centered Worship:

Doctrinal lectures and inspirational how-to motivational talks dominate both traditional and contemporary approaches, but both tend to undermine the even-character of the service. It is one thing to talk about the doctrines of sin and grace and another to actually be faced with God in judgment and justification. It is one thing to hear exhortations to victory and quite another to actually experience the power of being drawn into the plotline of God’s victory over our enemies (the world, the flesh, and the devil). Doctrine and exhortation will be involved in all good preaching of Scripture, but preaching can never be reduced to either…

Preaching is not merely the minister’s talk about God but God’s talk–and not just any talk. It’s the kind of talk that produces a new people. It is the encounter through which God himself takes the judge’s bench, arraigns us as sinners by the standard of perfect justice, and then finds a way, in Jesus Christ, to be both just and the justifier of the ungodly. All of this happens to us before our very ears. It is worked upon us and in us by the Holy Spirit as the Word is preached (and is confirmed visibly for us by the sacraments).

– Dr. Michael Horton, A Better Way: Rediscovering the Drama of God-Centered Worship, (2002), p. 38.

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