Friday, December 05, 2014

Music ≠ Worship

Worship ≠ Music, and Music ≠ Worship; but 21st century North American evangelicalism sees them as practically same thing. Go to any conference and look at the schedule. When it says “worship” it almost invariably means that someone will be leading music (or in some cases just doing music) up front with the (often missed) goal of getting everybody to sing together. Scripture says that we are to sing to God as an act of worship, so what’s the problem? 

In a recent article, journalist Todd Pruitt asks: Is Your Church Worship More Pagan than Christian? Problems arise when 
... music is viewed as a means to facilitate an encounter with God; it will move us closer to God. In this schema, music becomes a means of mediation between God and man. … Music and ‘the worship experience’ are viewed as means by which we enter the presence of God and receive his saving benefits. … This is a common pagan notion. It is far from Christian.
Pruitt then shares 4 consequences of viewing music itself as an encounter with God found in the book True Worship by Vaughan Roberts (neither the book title nor the author's name is familiar to me). 
  • God’s Word is marginalized. Scripture reminds us that faith is generated as we encounter the living Word of God. Feelings may be involved, but the presence of feelings does not indicate worship.
  • Our assurance is threatened. If we depend on music in order to feel close to God, then it is the feelings we are seeking, not God.
  • Musicians are given a priestly status. We prize their ability to create a “worshipful” atmosphere more than their faithfulness to Christ.
  • Division is increased. Because musical taste is subjective there will be a wide variety of musical preferences within any given group of people. But we segregate ourselves according to style preference. 
Pruitt finishes with this thought:
Scripture is full of exhortations to God’s people to sing and make music to the Lord. … But it is important to understand that music in our worship is for two specific purposes: to honor God and to edify our fellow believers. Unfortunately, many Christians tend to grant music a sacramental power which Scripture never bestows upon it.
That’s enough to think about for now. The peace of Christ to you.


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