Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Feel-good Religion

"I would like to see a re-emphasis of awe and reverence in worship and a disappearance of "feel good religion." People who arrive in heaven in their blue jeans and short shorts are going to be struck suddenly by the necessity to fall down prostrate before the throne. We dress up for our employers from Monday to Friday, but come Sunday morning, it's only the Lord of the Universe, so anything goes. It's not so much formality, but a recognition of our place before God. I recognize that the prodigal son didn't put on a tuxedo to come back home. But once back, he bathed, shaved, and shed his "pig sty" appearance. It seems to me that meshing rigorous, biblical exposition is increasingly hard with a "feel good" mood in the congregation. The preacher is at a disadvantage when everything else, including the nature of the music and the frivolity, connotes a club meeting rather than entering into the sacred presence of a thrice-holy God who is a consuming fire."

Bruce Lockerbie

Dr. Bruce Lockerbie is Chairman and CEO of PAIDEIA, Inc. (pie-day-ah), a team of consultants working with schools, colleges, seminaries, churches, and other public interest institutions. He is also Chairman of the Olympus Group, which offers counsel on sports-entertainment events and programming. He holds two degrees from New York University and for thirty-four years served on the faculty of The Stony Brook School in Long Island, New York. Upon leaving the school, he was the Thomas F. Staley Foundation Scholar-in-Residence.

Lockerbie is author, co-author, or editor of more than three dozen books whose topics range from aesthetics and biography to family living and popular theology. His most recent volume is Dismissing God: Modern Writers' Struggle Against Religion. A frequent lecturer, he has also contributed hundreds of articles and essays to various publications.


Jayson Finley in Lacos said...

It is amazing how often James 2:1-4 is used as justification to come to church dressed as if going to a Memorial Day picnic in 100 degree weather, even though the passage has nothing to do with intentionally dressing sloppily for church. It specifically addresses the hypocrisy of treating the rich better than the poor. Too often, it is almost presented as a badge of honor to come to worship the Lord wearing the grubbiest old clothes a person can find. This is nothing but false humility.

It is interesting to note that when Jacob went to worship the Lord, he and his family cleaned up and changed their clothes. Maybe they considered it important to show respect to the Lord.

"Then God said to Jacob, ‘Arise, go up to Bethel and live there, and make an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau.’ So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, ‘Put away the foreign gods which are among you, and purify yourselves and change your garments; and let us arise and go up to Bethel, and I will make an altar there to God, who answered me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone’”(Genesis 35:1-3, NASB). Oops… I forgot… we’re not allowed to use the Old Testament, are we?

Nothing says we have to put on a tux, or even wear a tie, when we go to church. However, respect and reverence for the God of the universe should dictate that we dress at least as well as we would for human bosses or dignitaries. I am getting tired of hearing that it is somehow wrong to dress up to go to church.

Ron Livesay said...

Just look at the contrast between "Come, just as you are to worship" and "Just as I am without one plea..." The first one implies that God doesn't care if we come to worship Him in an attitude of respect or not. The second one gives an accurate picture of our pathetic position as lost, helpless, vile sinners before we come to Him for salvation. Some think these songs mean the same thing. This is clearly not the case.