I am not an apologist. I have wasted countless hours in the past fretting about internet arguments over matters of faith and doctrine. However, when I read this blog post I felt a need to respond in some way.
In the post, the author (rightly so) talks about the evils of pornography, even quoting one of my favorite authors, C. S. Lewis—I love his thoughts on human appetite and sin. He then goes on to equate “CCM ‘praise music'” with being a “‘God apparatus’ [referencing Lewis’s notion of a “woman apparatus”] that encourages lust for a catchy beat over intimate knowledge of God’s Word.”
Throughout his post, he continues to use language like “largely true … much … most…” in regards to what he regards as the self-serving CCM “praise music.” If he doesn’t feel comfortable lumping in all “praise music,” then his argument is as if he is saying most porn is bad, much of it is merely about aesthetics. It’s just poor logic and a poor analogy.
This argument does nothing except deepen the chasm between steadfast traditionalists and those who see the benefit of good modern worship. It creates an “us-them” mentality.
I am not, nor have I ever been, a fan of “Trading My Sorrows” (one of the examples he uses). He uses the “yes Lord, yes Lord, yes yes Lord” chorus to drive home his point. But he completely ignores the “I am pressed but not crushed / persecuted not abandoned…” part. What do you say about that? Because last I checked, that’s right out of 2 Corinthians!
I wonder if he has pondered the lyrics of Paul Baloche’s and Glenn Packiam’s “Your Name,” of The Brilliance’s “Mother of God” or “Our God Alone.” These are just a few that have entered our recent repertoire at University Lutheran Chapel. These are songs that sing of God’s salvation through Jesus—the name above all names! It took me a while of singing Joel Houston’s “The Stand” to fully realize the beauty of the Trinity in its three verses. The author of the blog would likely argue about where the song ends up (“so I’ll stand…”), but I would argue back that it is all in response to what God has done and what was sung about in the verses (“in awe of the One who gave it all”).
I am not (I pray) prideful enough to think I have it all figured out. There are songs I used to do that I don’t anymore. I believe discernment needs to be used in selecting music to be sung in our worship services—of both lyrical content and musical qualities. We have sung hymns with beautiful words that the congregation awkwardly stumbled over—in our traditional service! The same can be said about modern songs that just didn’t click, as well as songs whose poetry got in the way of the message.
Luther was about getting the Word of God and the worship of His people into the vernacular. “A Mighty Fortress” was a new song that first week, and took some getting used to. There were wonderful hymns written before Luther, and many written after. Some are still in our hymnal while others have dropped off. I do not think all modern worship music will stand the test of time, but there are some that will—songs that are wonderful testaments to who God is and what he has done for us.
May what we do as worship leaders (and as worshippers) bring glory to God and not sow seeds of division. Let iron sharpen iron. Bring light to darkness. Where words of truth need to be spoken, let them be rooted in God’s truth and not just subjective personal taste based on limited empirical evidence. Shock with the gospel, not with things of man.