Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Contemporary Clamour, Doctrinal Deviation, and Musical Madness

“Sunday Morning is the greatest hour of idolatry in the week of America because people are not worshiping the One True God.” —Paul Washer
posted by Michael Wright on "The Unknown God of Christianity" at Made Free

I heard a popular new Christian song “performed” in church recently (I use the word “performed” because sometimes I get the feeling that the presentations are more about the performer than about deflecting the congregation’s attention to Jesus Christ).

The song, popularized by Mandisa, an American Idol finalist, is titled, “God Speaking.” In it, the lyrics make reference to a series of personal experiences and then asks the rhetorical question, “What if it is God speaking?” The obvious error of the song is that it conveys the idea that God speaks today through nature and personal experiences to communicate His love for us. Frankly I get a very nervous about the potential danger in these kinds of lyrics which could lead people to believe that God's word can be subjectively determined.  Furthermore, it is unforgivable that those undershepherds whom God has ordained to lead, and feed, and protect the flock, will allow them to graze there and consume that.

The Word of God is clear and final; He has, in these last days, spoken unto us by His Son…” (Heb. 1:2). Romans 5:8 tells us that “God demonstrated His love toward us in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." It is true that God loves us; the proof is Calvary. And it is true that He speaks to us but it you want to hear him, you must listen to His written Word.

It is not my intention to be unreasonably petty, but Truth must be guarded. Doctrinal deviation is insidious. It creeps slowly into our thinking and then into our practices and ultimately into our traditions. Then, if we ever wake up to it, we wonder how we ever got there in the first place. Modern hymn writer, Kieth Getty, has said, "What we sing affects how we think, how we feel and, ultimately, how we live, so it's important that we sing the whole scope of truth the Bible has given us."

In his book, “Nine Marks of a Healthy Church,” Pastor Mark Dever proffers this thoughtful and appropriate piece of hypothetical sarcasm.

“I had thought of writing a book for pastors called ‘How to Get Fired…And Fast!’ I could sum up the basic idea of this unwritten book in one sentence of Pauline proportions: A pastor could go into a church members’ meeting questioning the salvation of some of the members, refusing to baptize children, advocating a priority of congregational singing over performed music, asking to remove the Christian and national flags and to stop any kind of altar calls, replace committees with elders, ignore the secular rotation of  begin practicing church discipline, remove women from elder-like positions in the church, and state that he had theological opposition to multiple services on Sunday morning…Such a pastor might not get much farther than his next members’ meeting.”

Regardless of anyone’s personal or emotional disagreements with or attachments to any of Pastor Dever’s presumed doctrinal deviations, this does raise a legitimate question that every responsible Christian must be willing to ask; Is my theology a product of biblical Truth or is it a collection of warm and fuzzy traditions and sentiments?

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