I’ve never been a successful drummer, but I know that we all need that extreme, personality in every pretentious group. Please have a glass of water handy for the spit-takes that are sure to come in the videos below:Continue reading
To what extent, if any, should Anglican and Reformed models of worship overlap? As to their differences – first, what are they; and secondly, are they material or formal? And if the differences are real – it seems fairly clear that on something as fundamental as the Regulative Principle of Worship, the two streams diverge – how should we handle influences and reactions?
As the 42nd PCA GA approaches, this question will grow slightly more important as different pockets within the denomination come into contact with each other. Some of these intersections will create snark:
And others will strive to mingle, as noted in this article from a largely appreciative perspective, “Thoughts Concerning the Influence of the Anglican Tradition on Contemporary Reformed Liturgical Practice.”
My own opinion is both neophyte and (reactionary) cautious. Continue reading
Alex McDonald is a pianist. But not just any pianist: he made his orchestral debut at 11, earned a Doctorate in Musical Art at Juilliard, recently competed in the 14th Van Cliburn International Competition in Fort Worth, Texas, and is younger than I am! World magazine interviewed Alex McDonald, where he made a staggering point about worship. I hope to come back and revisit this idea in greater detail, but for now, consider his suggestion all of our arguments about music styles in the “worship wars” are just a smokescreen for the idolatry in our hearts.
What role do you think church music should play in one’s experience of worship?
In modern churches, we have a graven image of what the experience of God ought to be like, and we want our music to simulate that experience in us. It could be an organ or a praise team—either can create a God experience that may not have any of God in it at all. But people will feel like they’ve worshipped. Continue reading
I have given in the past, but now I have questions about tithing. I would like to know more about tithing and was hoping that at some point you could visit with me about it….or address it from the pulpit.
Recently, I read an article that gave an astonishing statistic that I find difficult to believe is accurate. It declared that of all of the people in America who identify themselves as evangelical Christians, only four percent of them return a tithe to God. If that statistic is accurate, it means that ninety-six percent of professing evangelical Christians regularly, systematically, habitually, and impenitently rob God of what belongs to Him. It also means that ninety-six percent of us are for this reason exposing ourselves to a divine curse upon our lives. Whether this percentage is accurate, one thing is certain — it is clear that the overwhelming majority of professing evangelical Christians do not tithe.
What is the tithe, and does it still apply today?
The Bible has many instructions regarding the tithe. The tithe is a concept of 1 out of 10. Sproul again: “We are required to give ten percent of our gross annual income or gain. If a shepherd’s flock produced ten new lambs, the requirement was that one of those lambs be offered to God. This offering is from the top. It is not an offering that is given after other expenses are met or after other taxes have been paid.”
Generally, the tithe was to be given to the Lord’s servants, the Levites (Numbers 18:21ff). In the Old Testament, many alms for the poor were above and beyond the tithe (e.g. Exod. 23:10-11; Lev. 19:9-10; 25:35-37; Deut. 15:7-11; 24:12-15). The tithe had many purposes, including: to support the priesthood (Num. 18:21-32; Deut. 14:28-29); to honor God in sacrifice and feasts (Lev. 27:31; Num. 18:26-28; Deut. 14:22-26); and to feed the aliens, widows and orphans (Deut. 14:28-29; 26:12).
Some people argue that the tithe is no longer applicable in the New Testament era, as this was only for the Old Covenant era. Continue reading
Maybe you saw this linked from The Gospel Coalition, but if you haven’t read President of Asbury Dr. Timothy C. Tennent’s fall convocation entitled, “The Clarion Call to Watered Down Evangelicalism: Our Mission to ‘theologically educate,’” well then you should go read it now.
Tennent starts off by noting, “Tragically, Niebuhr’s devastating critique [of liberalism] is on the brink of being equally applicable to contemporary, evangelical Christianity.” From there, he turns both barrels on the current state of evangelicalism in America today. Here are some of the heavier quotes:
If liberalism is guilty of demythologizing the miraculous, we have surely been guilty of trivializing it. If liberalism is guilty of turning all theological statements into anthropological ones, surely we must be found guilty of making Christianity just another face of the multi-headed Hydra of American, market-driven consumerism. If liberalism can be charged with making the church a gentler, kindler version of the Kiwanis club, we must be willing to accept the charge that we have managed to reinvent the gospel, turning it into a privatized subset of one’s individual faith journey. I realize that there are powerful, faithful churches in every tradition who are already modeling the very future this message envisions, but we must also allow our prophetic imagination to enable us to see what threatens to engulf us.
With the overwhelming influx of information available, discerning readers must become selective in what they give their time to read. Just in case you missed ’em, here are some links I found valuable, and hope you will also.
NYT: The High Cost of Low Teacher Salaries
Being the husband of an amazing teacher, this issue strikes close to home. Why does the entertainment business (pro sports, musicians, Hollywood) command multi-billion dollar industries, but our most formative is nearly broke? I think R.C. Sproul once argued that educators’ compensation reveals a culture’s priorities.
Ligonier: What about “Church is boring?”
When we come into the presence of the Almighty, we come as embodied souls, and there is nothing boring about meeting with the Ancient of Days.
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. 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
by Kevin Twit
Not too long ago I saw a sign in an antique store: “My grandmother saved it, my mother threw it away, and now I’m buying it back!” That little sign captures the story of church music in the last fifty years… For many, the church’s hymn tradition has become a treasured resource; students around the country are scouting out used bookstores for antique hymnals, searching for gems that have fallen out of use and yet resonate with their faith and longing to connect with God in a deeper way… we still need hymns in a postmodern world! Here are several reasons why: Continue reading
Last time we saw that what we sing to God in our lyrics and musical text is the most important thing for selecting music in worship services. In fact, what we sing even takes precedence over how we sing, or in other words, the tune, arrangement, and harmony. We can all agree that the music should reflect the mood and substance of our songs, but what other guidelines should churches consider when thinking about the musical tune of the text?