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Is Your Church Worship More Pagan than Christian?

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  • Is Your Church Worship More Pagan than Christian?

    The author of this Article at m.christianity.com thinks that many Christians tend to grant music a sacramental power which Scripture never bestows upon it.
    There is a great misunderstanding in churches of the purpose of music in Christian worship. Churches routinely advertise their “life-changing” or “dynamic” worship that will “bring you closer to God” or “change your life.” Certain worship CD’s promise that the music will “enable you to enter the presence of God.” Even a flyer for a recent conference for worship leaders boasted:"Join us for dynamic teaching to set you on the right path, and inspiring worship where you can meet God and receive the energy and love you need to be a mover and shaker in today’s world…Alongside our teaching program are worship events which put you in touch with the power and love of God."
    The problem with the flyer and with many church ads is that these kinds of promises reveal a significant theological error. 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. But this idea is closer to ecstatic pagan practices than to Christian worship.


    I admit that I have always considered musical Christian Worship as almost essential to the whole worship experience and have thought about how it can "usher in the Spirit of God". Might be time to take a serious look at that mentality...
    "What has the Church gained if it is popular, but there is no conviction, no repentance, no power?" - A.W. Tozer

    "... there are two parties in Washington, the stupid party and the evil party, who occasionally get together and do something both stupid and evil, and this is called bipartisanship." - Everett Dirksen

  • #2

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Littlejoe View Post
      The author of this Article at m.christianity.com thinks that many Christians tend to grant music a sacramental power which Scripture never bestows upon it.
      There is a great misunderstanding in churches of the purpose of music in Christian worship. Churches routinely advertise their “life-changing” or “dynamic” worship that will “bring you closer to God” or “change your life.” Certain worship CD’s promise that the music will “enable you to enter the presence of God.” Even a flyer for a recent conference for worship leaders boasted:"Join us for dynamic teaching to set you on the right path, and inspiring worship where you can meet God and receive the energy and love you need to be a mover and shaker in today’s world…Alongside our teaching program are worship events which put you in touch with the power and love of God."
      The problem with the flyer and with many church ads is that these kinds of promises reveal a significant theological error. 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. But this idea is closer to ecstatic pagan practices than to Christian worship.


      I admit that I have always considered musical Christian Worship as almost essential to the whole worship experience and have thought about how it can "usher in the Spirit of God". Might be time to take a serious look at that mentality...
      Getting closer to God is not a bad thing, but that flyer. . . . IMO many people confuse emotion with spirituality, and praise and worship is nearly always upbeat. OTOH, music has been a part of the worship of God since, oh, at least the crossing of the Red Sea. In Orthodox circles I've heard the saying, "prayer that is sung is twice said." In other words, singing tends to come from the heart moreso than plain speech. Prayer from the mind and the heart approaches pure prayer unsullied by outside distractions.
      Enter the Church and wash away your sins. For here there is a hospital and not a court of law. Do not be ashamed to enter the Church; be ashamed when you sin, but not when you repent. – St. John Chrysostom

      Veritas vos Liberabit<>< Learn Greek <>< Look here for an Orthodox Church in America<><Ancient Faith Radio
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      • #4
        Originally posted by One Bad Pig View Post
        IMO many people confuse emotion with spirituality,
        In my opinion also.
        Micah 6:8 He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Jedidiah View Post
          Originally posted by One Bad Pig View Post
          IMO many people confuse emotion with spirituality,
          In my opinion also.
          How might we correct this?
          . . . the Gospel of Christ, for it is [the] power of God to salvation to every [one] believing, . . . -- Romans 1:16.

          . . . that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: . . . -- 1 Corinthians 15:3, 4.

          Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: . . . -- 1 John 5:1.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by 37818 View Post
            How might we correct this?
            Sound liturgical theology is a good place to start. We should ask ourselves what church worship is supposed to be or could be before we try to realize it.

            ETA: Psalms and canticles tend to take a prominent place in Scripture, and Psalms were almost certainly used in Jewish worship, in the Temple and elsewhere. Music, for the ancients, was almost never just entertainment: it was part of the way they developed a cultural identity, and the rhythm of poetry could also be a useful mnemonic device in a preliterate society. Even now, it's easier to memorize song lyrics than speeches.
            Last edited by Spartacus; 10-11-2014, 11:36 PM.
            Don't call it a comeback. It's a riposte.

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            • #7
              Give thanks to the LORD with the lyre; make melody to him with the harp of ten strings! --Psalms 33:2

              Oh sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth! --Psalms 96:1

              Oh sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things! --Psalms 98:1

              Sing praises to the LORD with the lyre, with the lyre and the sound of melody! --Psalm 98:5

              Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! --Psalms 150:4

              Many of the psalms are described as songs. For instance Psalm 108 starts off as "A Song. A Psalm of David" Many have notations for musical instruments strongly implying that certain Psalms were associated with musical accompaniment.

              Given the above it appears that music is not inappropriate in worship and can play a significant, inhancing role

              I'm always still in trouble again

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Littlejoe View Post
                The author of this Article at m.christianity.com thinks that many Christians tend to grant music a sacramental power which Scripture never bestows upon it.
                [box]There is a great misunderstanding in churches of the purpose of music in Christian worship. Churches routinely advertise their “life-changing” or “dynamic” worship that will “bring you closer to God” or “change your life.” Certain worship CD’s promise that the music will “enable you to enter the presence of God.” Even a flyer for a recent conference for worship leaders boasted:"Join us for dynamic teaching to set you on the right path, and inspiring worship where you can meet God and receive the energy and love you need to be a mover and shaker in today’s world…Alongside our teaching program are worship events which put you in touch with the power and love of God."
                Note how the advertisements are precisely that, advertisements: buy/do/consume this and you'll have a great time! Worship thus becomes primarily self-centered, about how much good "feels" (rather emotive) people can get (note the virtual absence of any laments in such setups).

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by One Bad Pig View Post
                  Getting closer to God is not a bad thing, but that flyer. . . . IMO many people confuse emotion with spirituality, and praise and worship is nearly always upbeat. OTOH, music has been a part of the worship of God since, oh, at least the crossing of the Red Sea. In Orthodox circles I've heard the saying, "prayer that is sung is twice said." In other words, singing tends to come from the heart moreso than plain speech. Prayer from the mind and the heart approaches pure prayer unsullied by outside distractions.
                  Agreed! Getting Closer to God is a good thing! I guess what caught my eye in the article is how common place such statements in the advertisements are spoken by music leaders and those in the church. I certainly believe that music as worship is to continue, but with the right attitude and mindset. As all forms of worship should be. It just seemed to hit me a little closer to where I live than it should have...
                  "What has the Church gained if it is popular, but there is no conviction, no repentance, no power?" - A.W. Tozer

                  "... there are two parties in Washington, the stupid party and the evil party, who occasionally get together and do something both stupid and evil, and this is called bipartisanship." - Everett Dirksen

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by rogue06 View Post
                    Give thanks to the LORD with the lyre; make melody to him with the harp of ten strings! --Psalms 33:2

                    Oh sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth! --Psalms 96:1

                    Oh sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things! --Psalms 98:1

                    Sing praises to the LORD with the lyre, with the lyre and the sound of melody! --Psalm 98:5

                    Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! --Psalms 150:4

                    Many of the psalms are described as songs. For instance Psalm 108 starts off as "A Song. A Psalm of David" Many have notations for musical instruments strongly implying that certain Psalms were associated with musical accompaniment.

                    Given the above it appears that music is not inappropriate in worship and can play a significant, inhancing role
                    Well, I absolutely agree that music should continue to be an appropriate form of worship. As long as we have the right mindset (as I said just above to OBP), I have heard things like..."great worship time...it has ushered in the presence of Almighty God..." But as we know, the presence of God is already there...
                    "What has the Church gained if it is popular, but there is no conviction, no repentance, no power?" - A.W. Tozer

                    "... there are two parties in Washington, the stupid party and the evil party, who occasionally get together and do something both stupid and evil, and this is called bipartisanship." - Everett Dirksen

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Littlejoe View Post
                      The author of this Article at m.christianity.com thinks that many Christians tend to grant music a sacramental power which Scripture never bestows upon it.
                      There is a great misunderstanding in churches of the purpose of music in Christian worship. Churches routinely advertise their “life-changing” or “dynamic” worship that will “bring you closer to God” or “change your life.” Certain worship CD’s promise that the music will “enable you to enter the presence of God.” Even a flyer for a recent conference for worship leaders boasted:"Join us for dynamic teaching to set you on the right path, and inspiring worship where you can meet God and receive the energy and love you need to be a mover and shaker in today’s world…Alongside our teaching program are worship events which put you in touch with the power and love of God."
                      The problem with the flyer and with many church ads is that these kinds of promises reveal a significant theological error. 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. But this idea is closer to ecstatic pagan practices than to Christian worship.


                      I admit that I have always considered musical Christian Worship as almost essential to the whole worship experience and have thought about how it can "usher in the Spirit of God". Might be time to take a serious look at that mentality...

                      It seems to me like this article itself commits a significant error where it equates the idea music (in the context of praise) facilitating an encounter with God to music becoming the mediation between God and man. The author then ties it to ecstatic pagan practices -- which is, of course, not only way off base but completely misinformed or intellectually dishonest. IMO, it sounds like the same ol' lines that we here from the tribe of John Macarthur -- where intellect and rhetoric is the sole means to experience God.

                      No doubt that music shouldn't be elevated in and of itself -- but there is nothing wrong, IMO, to understanding that praise (with or without music) is an essential part of Christianity. And it should go without saying that praise should come from a sincere and thankful heart that is in complete awe of our mighty and awesome God.


                      Psalm 100
                      1 Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
                      2 Serve the Lord with gladness!
                      Come into his presence with singing!
                      3 Know that the Lord, he is God!
                      It is he who made us, and we are his;[a]
                      we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
                      4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
                      and his courts with praise!

                      Give thanks to him; bless his name!
                      5 For the Lord is good;
                      his steadfast love endures forever,
                      and his faithfulness to all generations.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by One Bad Pig View Post
                        Getting closer to God is not a bad thing, but that flyer. . . . IMO many people confuse emotion with spirituality, and praise and worship is nearly always upbeat. OTOH, music has been a part of the worship of God since, oh, at least the crossing of the Red Sea. In Orthodox circles I've heard the saying, "prayer that is sung is twice said." In other words, singing tends to come from the heart moreso than plain speech. Prayer from the mind and the heart approaches pure prayer unsullied by outside distractions.
                        No doubt that quite a few people confuse emotion with spirituality -- but at the same time, there are those that see emotion as the antithesis of Christian maturity, and thus close themselves off to any such emotional experience. (I used to be much less 'emotional') And as such -- any sort of expression of emotion is considered immature, antichristian, or in some circles even 'demonic' -- all without observing the fruit that follows.

                        As I have drawn closer to God, I have realized that emotion is a VERY GOOD THING. (again, I used to look down at some of the more 'emotional' believers -- much to my embarrassment)

                        BUT, as in all other things, our emotion must be subject to the Word and Spirit of God; it must be expressed appropriately and within the God given context. So, with that in mind, I have found that many spiritual experiences are emotional, but many emotional experiences are not necessarily spiritual. And that, IMO, is where the confusion comes in -- when people measure the legitimacy of spirituality by emotion rather than the legitimacy of their emotion by true spirituality (through the Holy Spirit and His inspired Word). In other words, the problem is when people let their emotion guide their spirituality (Christianity) rather than let their spirituality guide their emotion.
                        Last edited by phat8594; 10-13-2014, 01:52 PM.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by phat8594 View Post
                          No doubt that quite a few people confuse emotion with spirituality -- but at the same time, there are those that see emotion as the antithesis of Christian maturity, and thus close themselves off to any such emotional experience. (I used to be much less 'emotional') And as such -- any sort of expression of emotion is considered immature, antichristian, or in some circles even 'demonic' -- all without observing the fruit that follows.

                          As I have drawn closer to God, I have realized that emotion is a VERY GOOD THING. (again, I used to look down at some of the more 'emotional' believers -- much to my embarrassment)

                          BUT, as in all other things, our emotion must be subject to the Word and Spirit of God; it must be expressed appropriately and within the God given context. So, with that in mind, I have found that many spiritual experiences are emotional, but many emotional experiences are not necessarily spiritual. And that, IMO, is where the confusion comes in -- when people measure the legitimacy of spirituality by emotion rather than the legitimacy of their emotion by true spirituality (through the Holy Spirit and His inspired Word). In other words, the problem is when people let their emotion guide their spirituality (Christianity) rather than let their spirituality guide their emotion.
                          True enough. I did not mean to imply that emotion was bad in and of itself.
                          Enter the Church and wash away your sins. For here there is a hospital and not a court of law. Do not be ashamed to enter the Church; be ashamed when you sin, but not when you repent. – St. John Chrysostom

                          Veritas vos Liberabit<>< Learn Greek <>< Look here for an Orthodox Church in America<><Ancient Faith Radio
                          sigpic
                          I recommend you do not try too hard and ...research as little as possible. Such weighty things give me a headache. - Shunyadragon, Baha'i apologist

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by One Bad Pig View Post
                            True enough. I did not mean to imply that emotion was bad in and of itself.
                            I didn't think you did -- I was just expounding further on your great thoughts.

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                            • #15
                              Thinking about the way the "pagan" angle was played in this article reminded me of AP's block post the other day about whether that particular claim is overused.
                              "I am not angered that the Moral Majority boys campaign against abortion. I am angry when the same men who say, "Save OUR children" bellow "Build more and bigger bombers." That's right! Blast the children in other nations into eternity, or limbless misery as they lay crippled from "OUR" bombers! This does not jell." - Leonard Ravenhill

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