Ur Video: N.T. Wright on Worship Music
Are contemporary worship songs too much like teenage love songs?
November 28, 2012

Displaying 1–10 of 21 comments

R Shepherd

December 11, 2012  11:17pm

The fact that talented young people are creating uplifting music inspired by the Word is an incredible blessing to so many who are brought closer to belief and faith in God because of it. Why fall prey to divisive arguments about this? Look at how Jesus lived. I have infinite respect for N.T. Wright's work, but still I must say that I think Jesus would dismiss this kind of argument as missing the point.

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December 05, 2012  3:08pm

Tim writes: "Vain repetition like the Rosary." "Vain" means "empty" or "meaningless." The prayer of the Rosary includes the saying of the Creed, the Lord's Prayer, and various other prayers drawn from Scripture, including petitions for the salvation of others and for one's own sanctification. I understand many Protestants might object to the prayers to the Virgin Mary, Christ's mother, but, in historical context (which are the various Christological controversies and heresies that cropped up in the history of the Church), they are based on a deep understanding of the implications of the Incarnation of God, the Word, through her, and Mary's role is magnified as a means of safeguarding the fullness of the mystery of that biblical reality concerning Jesus Christ and of the orthodox Christian belief that He is equally fully God and fully Man. They are also based on the understanding that those who are "in Christ," the whole communion of saints, especially those now in Christ's Presence, share His heart/will and His ministry of intercession (that is what such a communion in God's love means) for those of us still fighting the good fight of faith here on earth–His mother most of all. How is this construed as "meaningless" while similar prayers repeated often in Protestant churches and prayer groups are not? Certainly, anyone can just repeat or sing words of Scripture or a prayer mindlessly and without understanding or attention, but does that make all such repeated prayers automatically so when used by those outside our own particular tradition? In terms of such things, I try to hold to the teaching of Romans 14: 4 Who are you to judge another's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand. 5 One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord;[a] and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks. 7 For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself. 8 For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord's. 9 For to this end Christ died and rose[b] and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living. 10 But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.[c] 11 For it is written: "As I live, says the Lord, Every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall confess to God."[d] 12 So then each of us shall give account of himself to God. 13 Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother's way. I don't have a problem with anyone's worship of Christ if it is sincere and comes from the heart. In their turn the Scripture songs of the 70s, the contemporary worship songs of the 80s and 90s and beyond, and many contemporary Christian artists have ministered to me and helped me to focus on Christ and God's saving acts in history and express my love for Him. They have done so along with the hymns of the Anglican and Wesleyan traditions used in my childhood churches (and schools in Great Britain) and now with the profound and beautiful ancient tradition of Orthodox Christian hymn and chant that have edified generations of God's people for centuries.

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December 05, 2012  9:29am

Love the way he rolls his eyes up at 2:07 in the video. That's what I did as he puts out the same old tired argument. Tell you what - I'll take the new worship music over the crazy Country-Gospel songs my parents adore and worship God with - yes they really do, and so do many of us with the shallow, trendy, much repeating love songs to Jesus.

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December 05, 2012  8:24am

Worship is addressed to God. He's the only one "worth" our worth-ship. But then consider 90+% of the hymns. They are not sung TO God, but are predominantly ABOUT God. Not saying that's bad . . . many of the Psalms express ideas about God in the 3rd person. However, many contemporary "praise" songs are, in fact, addressed TO God, and that's been a great corrective in our worship. In this way, some are even like prayers. But whether it's a prayer TO God, a reflection ABOUT God or a ballad about some experience WITH God, don't you think that God appreciates it all? Like walking down a long hallway with multiple doors, if as you pass a door you suddenly hear your name in one of the rooms - recognize that somebody's saying something about you - don't you stop in your tracks to try to hear what they're sayings about you? Is this not what brings joy to God in our worship? Is this not an explanation of "God inhabits the praise of His people?" Is it not in this way that "it's all about Him?" Does he really care that the notes upon which His name is praised come from a harp, or lyre, or piano, or organ, or praise band with guitars and electronic keyboards, or full orchestras and their percussions? Does it make a difference to Him to hear His name from inside the mind of a woman driving a car to work, or a kid singing a praise son on the playground, or brother and sister singing a duet, or a praise team leading worship, or a concert artist belting out the words to a "great" hymn over a orchestra, or 10 combined church choirs singing Handel's Messiah in a concert hall? When are we going to stop finding fault with others whose tastes are different than our own? Theology of the hymns? Ever really looked into that one? Come on . . . there's just as many "beloved" hymns with bad theology as there are contemporary praise songs with ever repeating lyrics. This whole discussion is just a smoke screen for people who seem to feel better if they can somehow convince themselves that they "do it" more correctly than another generation, or another denomination, or another demographic. We'd all do well to live at least a year or two aboard to start realizing how cultural our supposed "theological" issues are . . . music especially. I guess I sound a bit like Rodney King (may his RIP), "Can't we all just get along?" Anyway, as others have affirmed: Just one man's opinion.

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December 05, 2012  2:08am

Athix Thanks for clarifying. I'm glad you did not mean what you said. I'm also with you on the endless (10 or 12) repetitions of the same line with only a slightly different kick from the band on each one, sing a short bridge and then back to the 10 or 12 repetitions. It's almost like worship is being connected with going into a trance or some deeper reality like mantra repetition in yoga. There is some repetition in the Psalms but it is interwoven with meaningful thoughts interjected every other line. It's beautiful Hebrew poetry, the exact opposite of what seems to be "vain repetition", like the Rosary.

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Nigel Forsyth

December 04, 2012  10:28pm

Got a POINT , Ive asked the same question , the answer simply seems to be that our churches are shaped by culture rathewr than shaping culture . It does seem that one has to search for ,martial(grapes of wrath), declaritive (Gods power and glory ) or celebratory, its easy to to find soft and sweet love songs , a bit Justin Bieberish ...

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December 04, 2012  8:17pm

So I am not the only one who suspected that many current worship songs have a Barry Manilow feeling to them. As long as we keep trying! God is gracious enough to put up with our sincere yet pathetic attempts at worship.

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Ruth Funderburk

December 04, 2012  4:50pm

Indeed, hymns are love songs to God, and we owe Him our best. But some of those great old hymns used pub tunes along with the beautiful classical and baroque melodies by great composers. Music is a mnemonic device, which is why we are commanded to sing psalms AND hymns AND spiritual songs, and why much of the Old Testament was sung. God loves variety and so do I, but I prefer Keith Getty and Stuart Townend to many other contemporary composers. Our kids usually like other types of music, however. We need the variety to meet our needs as they develop. I just finished performing Handel's Messiah on Friday and Saturday nights, and that plays in my mind constantly. However, on Sunday night I sang a concert of more current works, including several gospel numbers I also love to do. I don't need my MP3 to pull up the vast library of hymns, songs, and psalms in my head; thank God they are all there, ready to be called up to meet my needs of the moment.

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Joe Harrington

December 04, 2012  2:44pm

Can we not identify repeating the "same simple chorus over and over again" with the ancient practice of centering prayer? Before we can engage our minds with worship, we need to clear our minds of distracting thoughts. This said, I will admit that even though I can accept any style of worship music, my preference is the old proven hymns. But who is to say that SOME of the "contemporary worship music" will not be an "old standard" fifty or a hundred years from now?

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December 04, 2012  1:33pm

I've spent decades leading churches as mission outposts in their respeictve neighborhoods. My observation is that appealing to certain segments of society with church music is largely about the life-time church people–not the unchurched neighbors. The non-church people have no idea what to expect in worship music, nor do they usually even have an opinion on it. What they're really looking for is love, acceptance, God's presence, and meaningful discussion about meaningful things. If the worship is heartfelt, is about God, and resonates with the congregation, it'll have an impact on the new people. The new people have no interest in "cool and trendy" vs. traditional–only in finding God and meaning in life.

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