Friday, November 19, 2010

Are Your Hymns to Spiritual?

A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing; our helper he amid the flood of mortal ills prevaling. For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe; his craft and power are great, and armed with cruel hate, on earth is not his equal.
Martin Luther (1529)

Jesus is my  boyfriend Music
Hymnody has fallen on hard times. The Second Great Awakening, Pentecostalism, and the Jesus Movement have taken a toll. No longer are hymns theologically informed and centered upon the Glory and majesty of God; instead, the great truths of Scripture that moved the pens of hymnists have been replaced by the man-centered lavender quills of romantics.
Dr. Michael Horton, professor of theology and apologetics at Westminster Seminary California, reflects upon this transition in an article titled, Are Your Hymns Too Spiritual? 
Here's how the article begins:
The average Christian will learn more from hymns than from any systematic theology. Hymns chart progression from classic hymns of the 17th and 18th centuries (especially those of Charles Wesley, Augustus Toplady, John Newton and William Cowper) to the Romantic "songs and choruses" of the 19th and 20th centuries. They reflect the shift from Reformation categories (God, sin and grace, Christ's saving work, the Word, church, sacraments, etc.) to Romantic individualism. 
We sing, "I come to the garden alone while the dew is still on the roses. And the voice I hear, singing in my ear, the voice of God is calling. And he walks with me and he talks with me, and he tells me I am his own." Or, "He touched me." 
The number of 19th century hymns that talk about the objective truth of Scripture, and that which God has done outside of my personal experience, is overwhelmed by the number of hymns that focus on my personal experience. It is my heart, not God and his saving work, that receives top billing.
If that was true of the 19th century, the 20th century only exacerbated this emphasis, and the style of the commercial Broadway musical was imitated in songs that elevated personal experience and happiness above God and his glory. Today, the vast majority of entries in the Maranatha, Vineyard, and related praise songbooks are not only burdened with this self-centered and Gnostic tendency, but often contain outright heresy--probably not intentionally, but as a result of sloppy theology. In our day, sloppy theology usually means some form of Gnosticism. 

Read the rest of article here.
[copied from my friend at The Wittenberg Door]

30 Days of Thanksgiving

The Generosity of Others
"You will be enriched in every way for all your generosity, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God" 2 Corinthians 9:11

Our good ole girl Buick just underwent 557.00 worth of repair. God graciously provided all but 9.00 (actually 8.00 and change) in gifts. We certainly did not have that in the budget at this time so the generosity of others made this happen. Thank you, you know who. Thank you Father!

Last week Yvonne at Welcome to My World of Poetry was so kind, thoughtful, and generous and awarded the Gospel-driven Disciples Blog with the Wholesome Blog Award. Thank you Yvonne! My instructions beyond enjoying the award was to pass it on to 1-12 other "wholesome blogs. Today, I would like to pass this award to three very special and wholesome blogs:

Seams Inspired
Theology for Girls
So Much to Say, So Little Time...
Congrats to you guys! Feel free to "pick-up" the award, enjoy it, and share with 1-12 other "wholesome" blogs. Thanks again, Yvonne!


Seams Inspired said...

Thanks for the award, Gregg! :o) I pride myself on maintaining a blog that can be read by anyone. I try to remember that my kids might want to read through it one day. :o)

Now, about this post...I haven't yet read the entire article you cited, though I will. I just want to make sure I understand what you're saying. Are you saying you feel only the hymns of years ago teach theology?

That might be true; however, I thought the point of singing praises/hymns was to worship our Creator. If my statement is true, why wouldn't contemporary songs be just as useful in today's churches?

Just some thoughts I'm trying to wrap around. :o) I love your posts, because they really make me think! Happy Friday!

welcome to my world of poetry said...

The pleasure was all mine Gregg.

Enjoy your week-end.


JD Curtis said...

I stopped by The Wittenburg Door a time or two. I like the guy and I generally agree with his premise.

At my church, I attend the early (traditional) service precisely because I cannot stand contemporary worship music. It's like so much caterwauling to me.

We have a combined (communion) service at the end of the month in which classic hymns and contemporary music are sung. I attend services at another church on that particular Sunday of the month. It gives me another perspective from like-minded preachers of a similar, precious faith and I think it broadens my experience. So in the end, I believe tha it works out well for me.

Persis said...

Thanks for the link to Dr. Horton's article. I agree with his premise that more songs are about me and my experience and what I get out of that experience than extolling the glories of God. As far as the "Jesus is my boyfriend" genre, I heard Thabiti Anwyabile say, "Jesus isn't your boyfriend. Jesus isn't your homeboy. Jesus is God."

Also, praise the Lord for His provision for your car. God is good.

Mike said...

I have grown to love and adore old hymns...ever since attending the T4G conference where 7,000 men belted out praise to God via hymns. I fell in love that week!

By the way, "too", not "to". Love you, man!!!

Cathryn said...

Sorry about this, but you've inadvertently hit a trip wire of mine. Given that the roots of the contemporary christian music trend are firmly planted in the Jesus Freaks (Lonnie Frisbee) and the overwhelmingly modalistic, heretical elements of the charismatic movement, why should a believer want to emulate that style of music in the corporate worship experience? I grew up in the 70s and 80s; so, I have an appreciation for the music of my era, but I'm not comfortable mingling the sacred with the secular. I prefer coming to Church and singing songs that are not like those I hear in the "world." I don't want to be an unreasonable music bigot. I just want to find a place beyond my personal preference or the cravings of the culture. Of course, the words need to be doctrinally rich and God exalting, but where should the line be drawn in terms of the style?

Also, I am so thankful that you thought of me for the blog award! You made my day!

Cathy M. said...

I don't know why my identity is obscured above. That's me in the above comment from "Cathryn."

Kansas Bob said...

One of my favorite ways to worship is singing the psalms and other parts of scripture set to music. I learned so much of the bible that way.

The only issue that I have with hymns is the way that folks sings them. I cannot stand to listen to an unemotional and dispassionate rendering of "It is Well", "Amazing Grace", "Power in the Blood", "A Mighty Fortress" or any other of those beautiful old hymns. I think that their authors would be disappointed with that sort of apathy.

In my opinion choirs have stole the soul out of worship and turned it into a spectator activity. The young folks I know see through it and do not want any part of it.

Here endth my rant. :)

The Wittenberg Door said...

I’m honored, Gregg. Thank you. Keep up the fine work.


Anonymous said...

Yes indeedie, sacred music has fallen on hard times. Like John MacArthur calls much of modern Christian music, "7-11 songs" (7 words sung 11 times).
But I'm glad that God is raising up some new hymn writers who are turning the focus back to the glory and majesty of Christ, which is where it should be.
Thank you for this good word.