Modern Worship: Combining the Sacred with the Profane

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The following is from “Throwing Out the Principles: The basic principles of worship broken and rejected by many today,” from the Sword & Trowel, Metropolitan Tabernacle, London, England, 2001, No 3:

The third major departure from biblical principles of worship is THE FLAGRANT DISREGARD OF THE GULF BETWEEN SACRED AND PROFANE, SO THAT THE WORST MUSICAL ENTERTAINMENT FORMS OF THE WORLD ARE BROUGHT INTO THE PRAISE OF GOD. Thus it becomes profane worship.

Is a musical instrument or a musical style unsuitable for worship simply because the world does it? No, but it is unsuitable for worship if it is used by the world to promote an anti-God, anti-moral agenda. The word profane focuses the issue more clearly. Is classical music worldly? Not necessarily. It may be beautiful music, not identified with or promoting anti-God, anti-moral forces. Are the old folk songs worldly? Not necessarily. Many were innocently sung for years in the primary schools of a more moral age. Is the guitar worldly? Not necessarily – it depends whether it is used simply and of necessity (as by the unregistered Russian congregations who were compelled to worship in forests), or by Christians deliberately courting a pop image for the church.

Is the modern entertainment scene worldly? Most definitely, because it is the most powerful and determined anti-God, anti-moral, anti-authority culture for centuries. It is profane, treating moral and sacred things with utmost irreverence and disregard. It actively and militantly decries biblical morality, substituting the opposite. It promotes an alternative society, including the worship of self and of lust as normal, reasonable and acceptable, and that is its standing in the mind of the public. For this reason the new worship movement is wrong, and sins against God when it borrows and employs all the distinctive components of today’s popular entertainment culture.

Modern worship is a total artistic identification with that culture, contrary to the exhortation of 1 John 2.15-16: ‘Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.’

Modern worship equally rejects the parallel warning in James 4.4: ‘Know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.’

The Lord calls for submission to His standards, and will resist, not bless, those who set themselves above His Word. This is clear from James 4.6, where, immediately following the prohibition of friendship with the world, the warning to offenders is given – ‘God resisteth the proud.’ A significant statement appeared in a Christian magazine article about the new worship. Thinking of ‘Willow Creek’, a mega-church in the USA noted for its contemporary worship, the writer said – ‘Only a generation that loved Woodstock could love Willow Creek.’ That hits the nail on the head. New worship is designed to close the gap between the church and the world, in order to ‘win’ the latter, and that, we maintain, is to employ sinful compromise in the work of the Lord.

For the last time, we must put the question – why would any church want to bring a multiplicity of instruments on to the platform? What is the aim? What, precisely, will be achieved by a group of guitars plus percussion? And what exactly is added by the inclusion of trumpet, trombone, drums, saxophone and xylophone (now so common)? The answer may well come back along these lines: ‘These commend us to the present generation, drawing them in and showing them that Christianity is not fusty, but right for them, and they have nothing to fear.’

So the new worship does away with the separation of the church from the world, unites both together in Vanity Fair, and does away with the offence of the Cross.
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