Friday, October 1, 2010

Praise singing is the new sacrament.

That quote from John Kleinig via Pr. Esget and a Doxology conference is a good one.  But then it is what the Christians are left to do when they have no other sacraments -- create ones -- ones that fit the times, are tailored to their liking, and do what they want.  Those who have cast aside the real means of grace cannot function with a vacuum.  Something has to replace the real sacraments.  And so either things which are good and noble in their own right but not sacraments (like prayer, for example) are turned into sacraments OR other things are transformed from their original purpose in order to be cast as sacramental (pentecostal gifts of the Spirit).  The only problem with this is that prayer, praise singing, and pentecostal gifts make terrible sacraments.  They have no command from God, no promise of grace, and no earthly element to anchor them.  So we are back to feelings...

It is one thing for a church body which has rejected sacraments in the first place but it is a far different thing when Lutherans turn their backs upon the noble mysteries of God by which Christ is made present among us and bestows His grace upon in favor of these wannabe sacraments.

In many respects this is the problem with contemporary worship and evangelistic zeal -- they are raised up to become the high altars of what Christianity is really about and the water of baptism, the bread and wine of the Eucharist, the gift of absolution, the Pastoral Office conferred by ordination, and the unchanging message of Scripture become less important than what we do in worship.  We have to have music that appeals to the modern soul with a good dance beat, songs that say more about me than God, counters that keep a record of our witness like conquering armies record their kills on the battlefield, and Pastors who are pastors -- nobody special doing nothing any of us couldn't do if we wanted to...  So we end up with a gospel that tells us we should be happy and that the purpose of sex, marriage, kids, and work is to make us happy -- oh, yeah, not to mention church.

The stock and trade of churches adrift is when we choose these other things and make them sacramental and ignore the very places where God has attached His Word and promise, the means of grace that make Christ known to us.  It is as if we were those Emmaus disciples who said to Jesus, "Hey, but the really cool thing was how we felt, what we sang, how Jesus was nobody special, and when we got home everything seemed to go better -- more like we wanted..."

6 comments:

OldSouth said...

This is one of the most cogent bits of verbiage on the chaos within Christendom I have read in years.

Thank you!

Paul McCain said...

My favorite praise song is the Te Deum.

Bill Sizemore said...

This article may make sense to those who lack real knowledge of the subject. Sure, there are churches that are shallow and where feel good songs aimed solely at making attendees happy are the norm. However, that is hardly true of all churches where praise singing is employed.

It is possible that those who have never sensed the real presence of the Holy Spirit moving upon an entire congretation, bringing a sense of awe at the holiness of Almighty God and a sense of love and grace that He offers to those who worship Him in spirit and in truth, to believe that something outside their comfortable liturgies is shallow or less that spiritual. However, no one who knows this subject well and has a broader frame of reference, i.e. having been in enough churches to be able to tell the purely emotional from the real, would say such things.

Good churches, where the gifts of the Spirit are in operation and where praise singing is a norm, do not all ignore the foundational stones of Christianity, such as baptism and communion, etc. Souls are being saved and coming to a place of real repentance. If the angels in Heaven are rejoicing at this, why should there not be great rejoicing in the church, as well.

For a history of the move of the Holy Spirit, such as is condemned in this article, I suggest you read "Floods Upon the Dry Ground" by Charles P. Schmitt. You might find that the things condemned here have been common in every great move of the Holy Spirit throughout history.

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

I don't look for the "movement" of the Holy Spirit in great sweeping events, no more than Elijah looked for the Lord in the Earthquake. I look for the Spirit to be where He is promised to be. . . along side the Word of God, along side a few drops of water, along side the Sacrament of the Altar.

No special or "real knowledge" is needed to understand these things. Indeed, a child of 6 or 7 can understand that these Sacraments are the marks of the Church, the Church where the Holy Spirit is calling, gathering, enlightening, and Sanctifying His own saints.

I look for no more than what I have been give here, and I trust nothing else, for I too am a student of history, and all the great movements of so called spirit have been moves to undermine a focus on the Word, on Baptism, on the Sacraments, whether this is the Monatists, Asceticism, Albigensians (I know I misspelled that), the Zwickau Prophets, the so-called Great Awakenings, the Azuza Street Revivals, and so on and so forth.

ErnestO said...

The truth here is that our focus can be shattered by things apparently worthwhile (praise singing) - the devil, after all is no amateur at duping us.

Rev. Allen Bergstrazer said...

Praise God from whom all blessings flow that 27 years ago a Lutheran pastor (and USAF chaplain) sat me down in his office and explained to me that my salvation did not depend upon how I felt about it. That truth got me through more hard times than all the pseudo-spiritual praise band enthusisams I'd ever encountered.