Here are the views of an Evangelical. I don’t know what qualifications this writer has to speak to “worship” and “artistic ability”, but one seminary puts his views forward as, I don’t know, helpful?
“What should a church do if it does not have people with artistic ability to lead in worship? Again, Paul points out that God is in charge of distributing the gifts. God has ensured that each church has within itself what it needs to glorify God at that time, which is why it would be best to think of “artistic excellence” along these lines—doing the best with the resources (talent, time, money) that you have. Thus, what artistic excellence means will be different for each church, but each church should be striving for it with the resources God has given.”
What is wrong with this picture? And what can be done to fix the problem of tepid and indifferent worship? Imagine you are a pastor and one of your deacons finds this on the internet and brings it to you.
How would you advise him?
A certain popular crank has responded to assorted criticisms made of him on his blog. And he has responded in a way that makes those criticisms even more persuasive than they might have been had he followed my earlier advice to Evangelicals everywhere: Stop Talking!
The crank in question glibly defends his statements by saying they were offered on a blog and not in a courtroom, and, as we all are forced to admit, while people might expect facts and logic in a courtroom, they do not bring those expectations to his blog.
So score a point for him, I guess.
He went on to develop for us his misunderstanding of the words conservative and apostate. At one point he even illustrated his misunderstanding by comparing apostasy to his choice of items on the Arby’s menu.
* * *
So why should we bother? Are there not too many teapots in this world for us to demand there be a tempest in every one?
Why should we bother with that other crank who can find scriptural justification for wearing Adrian Peterson’s jersey right alongside scriptural justification for not wearing Adrian Peterson’s jersey?
Why should we bother with another crank who advises church musicians that worship can happen only in a sing-along?
Why should we bother with Bethany Jenkins as she soils every square inch?
The answer to that question ought to clarify what you have in your mind when you hear the word culture. If you use the word culture in a sermon to offer disparaging opinions on what happens in New York and Los Angeles and Washington D.C., then you probably shouldn’t care at all. No one is demanding that your pulpit conform to reality any more than Greg Howlett’s blog does. And there’s an end to it.
If you recognize a culture as a place where men engage in a common pursuit of true judgment, then you should care a great deal that other men don’t even know the meaning of their own words, and if they ever discover the meaning of their own words we will still have to check to see if they were uttered in a courtroom or on a blog! If culture is our means of arriving at judgments through which we understand each other and ourselves, then you have to care that your culture is full of self-serving, unrestrained, unreflective, undisciplined lunatics.
Is it important to you that you arrive at the sort of judgments that produce an understanding of yourself and others? Or is it important only that you think you understand yourself and those you can browbeat with your interpretation of Bible verses and the meanings of apostate and conservative and football jerseys?
If it is the second option that is important to you, then hurry on over to the House of Evangelicalism; they’ve obviously left a light on for you.
Evangelicalism: on a mission from God to desecrate every square inch.
Greg Howlett is a small caliber lunatic who claims to have left the conservative music movement and who wants you to know why he did so.
First, I don’t know what the conservative music movement is, but if there is such a thing and if it has any self-respect, I’m guessing it’s gotta be pretty chuffed about Howlett’s leaving. But a reader over at Greg’s musical landfill took issue with his post. What is most amusing is not what Howlett said first or what Wesley said afterward. What is hilarious is Howlett’s response to Wesley:
November 10, 2014, 4:42 pm
What you are saying is that I did not develop my points to your satisfaction. Yea, probably if this were a scholarly thesis or I wanted to put everyone to sleep, I could write 100,000 words instead of 1,400. But that is not my intent so we have to settle for some perceived logical fallacies.
No, Greg, sorry, but the complaint is not that you didn’t develop your points to his satisfaction; the complaint is that you had no points to develop. You had fallacies.
Then Greg suggests he might dispense with the fallacies if this were a “scholarly thesis” or if he wanted to put people to sleep. (I personally believe that Mr. Howlett could put people to sleep as well in 100,000 words as the 1,493 words he actually published.)
Either way, no good purpose is served by using fallacies. A fallacy doesn’t become more informative or more compelling or more persuasive in 1,000 words than it might be in 100,000. Fallacies don’t improve the quality of the prose. There have been no studies showing that fallacies keep more people awake (or keep them awake longer) than cogent arguments do.
The problem with people like Greg Howlett or Tim Challies or Bethany Jenkins or Jamie K.A. Smith or Garrett Kell is that they are freelance kooks.
Can Christianity survive freelance kooks and their balderdash?
How might one pastor a flock in the 21st Century? Think of it as a problem of contextualizing the Great Commission.
By having people stand and greet one another during a church service, we are proclaiming that there is something different about this crowd and about this gathering.
Yes, you certainly are!
Tim Challies is that rocket scientist who is “a little suspicious of a church that sings really well.” Clearly the brain assigned to Mr. Challies is not getting oxygen in the quantities that nature intended for optimal performance.
Imagine a life in bars, classrooms, concert halls, offices, coffee shops, or markets where all activities are scheduled, announced, managed, and formalized in such a way as to deny their very significance. The meaning of a greeting arises out of its spontaneity, its honesty, its kindness, its sincerity.
Church used to be a place where men met God, now it’s a place where nut jobs formalize their relations with bystanders.
I hope there is a meet-and-greet at Tim Challies’s funeral.
Timed to coincide with the infernal holidays I’m sure, “a group of internationally-renowned scholars of evangelicalism” will discuss the future of that particular blight on popular spirituality. Back when we first peeked into the future, we consulted astrologers, witches, mediums, crystal ball gazers, and eviscerators of goats, but now we’re much more biblical about this: we host a discussion by internationally-renowned scholars.
They shall speak to us of things to come.
If you are anywhere near Wheaton College tomorrow at 7, you are free to drop in on these internationally-renowned scholars (Dr. David Bebbington , Dr. Nathan O. Hatch , Dr. Mark Hutchinson, Dr. Mark A. Noll, and Dr. Grant Wacker) and learn whatever it is that has been peeped and muttered unto them.
A reception will follow, apparently.
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