Hymns vs. Contemporary Worship

Sometimes we can think that the issue of the older hymns vs. more contemporary songs (often praise choruses) is overblown. Music is subjective, so they say, and how can anyone say one is better than the other? Isn’t it personal opinion?

I’ve said elsewhere that not all hymns are created equal (I’ve never been in a garden alone with Jesus), and that there is some absolutely phenomenal new stuff coming out in contemporary songs. But despite these caveats: no, music isn’t wholly subjective and beyond critique.McLuhan Mug Remember Marshall McLuhan?

The medium is the message.

Dr. Lester Ruth is especially helpful for driving this point home. Dr. Ruth is now at Duke (formerly Lily May Jarvis Professor of Christian Worship at Asbury Theological Seminary), and he has tried to show conclusively the differences between song forms. He examined the top contemporary songs from CCLI for 13 years for language on how these songs spoke about the Trinity, the atonement, God’s divine saving work, and other doctrines unique to Christianity. Here are some of his findings: Continue reading

Spiritual Marriage, Spiritual Union

The section on “spiritual marriage” is short, but chock full of gospel excellence.

Growing up in American Evangelicalism, I knew how to “close” an evangelistic encounter. Having sufficiently stirred with the target’s emotions and guilt, you led them in the (sacrament of the?) Sinner’s Prayer™ (© 1954), and both parties left (often never seeing each other again) satisfied that eternal security had been purchased [/sarcasm]. But upon stumbling into the doctrines of grace, how do you actually lead someone into saving faith? Sure, your TULIP and covenant theology come into sharper focus, but how do you appeal to a spiritually dead will for conversion?

I submit that Evangelista’s interaction with Neophytus serves as an excellent example of how to press the Gospel message home. Evangelista’s question: “But tell me truly, are you resolved to put forth all your power to believe, and so to take Christ?” is a fantastic picture – not of subverting the emotions and the will – but of testing in a ministerial manner whether or not God has brought life out of death (Ephesians 2:1-10). Continue reading at TheMarrow.Org…

Soaring By Relying On the Holy Spirit

I want to thank Eric Williams, the class of 2011, and all of you for the privilege of addressing you this evening for your Baccalaureate service. Congratulations to the graduating class!

As we think about our theme of “soaring,” one of the key passages in Scripture that has already been mentioned is Isaiah 40:31 – “but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”. Maybe we sometimes wonder, “Why should I believe that God will help me soar on eagles wings?” Well, that is a question God’s people have asked themselves in every generation. But the reason we can know that God will help us soar on eagles’ wings is because He has proven that He has done it in the past, and He can do it again. Continue reading

Not Jaded Enough?

Let’s go all the way tonight
No regrets, just love…
We’ll be young forever
– “Teenage Dream”

Where is my jaded and cynical generation when I need them? We are the generation that went through Monica-gate in the White House, have been inundated with casual sex flurries in the media, “reality” TV, and real reality. When this generation actually was in the teenage years, Cobain’s shadow was still hanging over the party. Though she has other reasons, I agree with this The Atlantic writer, that Perry’s teenage dream “isn’t mine.”

Does anyone still think the unicorn of “no-strings-attached” sex exists? This strange, erotic amnesia needs to die sooner than later.

Sanctification: Ryle vs. Pink?

What role does sanctification play in the Christian life? And specifically, is sanctification necessary for a Christian to ultimately be saved? Sometimes this issue can be confusing for Reformed Protestants who wish to maintain salvation by God’s saving grace from first to last, and yet also trumpet the need for holiness and good works. Even reading erstwhile helpful pastors and expositors can be confusing, as J.C. Ryle and Arthur W. Pink demonstrate. Consider their separate comments:

From bottom left going clockwise: Ryle, Pink, Owen, Calvin

J.C. Ryle- “Holiness” pg.28-29

Sanctification, in the last place, is absolutely necessary, in order to train and prepare us for heaven Continue reading