The Death of Reverence, The Death of Holiness

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I sat on the pew outside the sanctuary and began to weep. I was crushed at what I was hearing and what I was experiencing. “Was I such an anomaly that finding a place to worship God with reverence and holiness was asking too much?” I literally felt like there would be no place for me to worship, no place to confess sin, no place to hear from Christ, no place that honored our LORD in thought, word and deed.

The church was an Acts 29 church, so I thought it would be solid in some ways. But I was disappointed the moment I saw the “band.” I know, I’m a relic, a has-been, a wash out, therefore I should just get “with it” and the “world” and worship like the rest of the world worships God. But I can’t do it. To me the “band” lacks reverence for a holy and just God. It is the world’s invention, thrust upon the body of Christ by those who supposedly “know better.”

If you were to tell the believers in the 1960s and 1970s that by 2010, if you really wanted to lead people in worshipping God then you would have to adopt the concert hall, the bar room, the disco in order to worship, they would have quit sharing the gospel at that moment out of reverence for His holiness.

“You mean the body of Christ is going to become the world, in order to save the world?”

I think the apostle John had something to say about that. 1 John 2:5 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the loveof the Father is not in him.

But John was “o-so first century! What did he know?” (Read: Open Letter to Praise Bands).

Instead of reverence, corporate prayer, corporate confession of sin, meditation, reading of Scripture, we are given the barroom with the latest act “leading” us? in worship. The leading act was so loud, it hurt my ears. That was the initial reason I left the sanctuary. I’ve had enough ear damage from my days of debauchery, I have no real desire to damage them some more in worldly worship.

The “band” even sang one of my favorite songs, Amazing Grace. But I wasn’t inspired to sing. Why should I? No one would have heard anyone over her voice and the congregation knew that as well. No one but the leader of the “band” was singing. John Newton would surely weep if he knew his song was being treated in such a manner.

This was not corporate worship. Corporate worship, which is prescribed in the Bible for the church to do, is for the entire body to do, not just a lead singer. Corporate worship was one of the marks of the Reformation. The Reformers were seeking to put worship back into the hands of the people.

Before the Reformation, only the clergy were participating in worship. The people just watched. Little did we know that the people really don’t want to worship. Just as the people in Moses’ day rejected being in God’s presence and asked Moses to be the mediator, so too are our congregations rejecting their right to pray, confess and sing to God. We are putting worship back into the hands of the clergy all over again, only this time the “clergy” have guitars and drums. They don’t realize this is what they are doing because while the lead singer belts away on one of their favorite tunes, he give some in the congregation an emotional experience, thereby deluding them into thinking that they have worshipped. They haven’t. I was having an emotional experience, and it was NOT worship.

Worship is more about obedience to God than emotional experiences. It is more about saying what is true of God, back to God. It is recognizing that we are meeting with a holy and just God, not Jay Z.

It means we do all to glorify Him, not that which glorifies the band leader and the guitar player. It means we actually prepare for worship throughout the week and on Sunday morning. We realize that congregational worship is the most important thing we will do all week, when done properly. When it is done properly, then we have met with God in His presence, heard from God through the reading and preaching of His word, been fed by God through reading and preaching of the word, and communion. We have been comforted by the gathering of the saints, both the ones here and the ones worshipping God as the church triumphant. In fact, we are joining with them in the worship that is already taking place in heaven.

But for some reason, we now want our worship to resemble some bad rock concert from the 1970s. Instead of holiness and reverence, we can dance in the aisles like a bunch of drunks.

I decided to leave. No point in staying. By the time the pastor got around to preaching, my heart would have been so upset that it wouldn’t matter what he said. My heart wasn’t right any longer. I knew that church wasn’t for me so I left, went to the car, and wept some more. I knew it would be hard to find a church to get plugged into, but I never realized the emotional toll it would take on me.

I called Babalucy and we talked and prayed.

I then set off for a Lutheran church I had passed the other day. I’m not Lutheran, and I don’t like the fact that going there, I would be considered out of fellowship and denied acceptance at the Lord’s table. I knew all of that, and accepted it in the hopes of solid, biblical preaching and a reverence of God.

Damn! The Lutheran church I found had open communion. That meant they were conviction-less Lutherans. No preaching of the word of God today. However, I did get a helpful lesson in forgiveness, which is what the pastor was preaching. In fact, it was a 12-step program and he was on steps 8 and 9. He even used a bit of Scripture, but was very brief with it. No need for the Bible here! Move along.

The pastor also let us know that he and his wife had tattoos on their backs. For some reason, he felt like we needed to know that. I guess he was trying to show us he had a past… and a present.

While the first church was irreverent in their music and approach before God, the Lutherans were irreverent in the substance of their actions with God. Both were irreverent in their own way. Both failed to take entering into the presence of God with any level of holiness or seriousness. Both treated entering the Holy of Holies as if it were a joke.

(Please note: Not all Lutherans are this way. I was hoping to find the ones who were not. It is just this particular church was. I can accept being barred from the table over theological disagreements if those barring me are reverent before a holy and just God.)

By the time I got free of the Lutherans, I realized I had time to find another place to worship. Someone told me of a church that was non-denominational that was supposed to be really good. I went to that one and as I got out of the car, I could hear the thump-thump bass of the band inside.

“Keep walking,”  I told myself. I did. I noticed others arriving about the same time and then it hit me. No one was carrying a Bible but me. In fact, the two previous churches had the same symptom. No one carried their Bibles. This was not good.

I got to the door and looked inside. I could see the “band” playing at the front of the sanctuary, the lead singer’s face all contorted as he belted out whatever ditty he was singing. The crowd, all on their feet, staring ahead as if he were Jon Bon Jovi rocking away.

I’m NOT going in there!” I turned and went back to my car.

On the way over, I passed a typical Baptist church that had a lot of cars in the parking lot. “Ok, give it a shot.”

Turns out, the Baptist church was letting another Luther church use their sanctuary during the early hour. They were all leaving when I got there, and there were only about 50 of us left in the sanctuary that held about 250. I stayed simply out of empathy for the pastor. I know what he must feel to look at all those empty pews. I could see the budget shortfall reported in the bulletin. I knew his staff was way too big, but because of tradition, he was bound to keep the associate pastor, the organist, the church secretary, etc., even though the church had no need for all that.

They were desperate for growth and I felt that desperation. Literally. They had me introduce myself and gave me a form to fill out so they could contact me. And IF I gave that form back to the pastor at the end of the church, they would give me a special gift. That wreaks of desperation. I know. I’ve done all those things before. Desperation never works. I’m an expert at it. I know.

But I was polite and put my name on the form. I sang the songs presented, and listened to the explanation of Acts 14. It was OK. It wasn’t offensive. It was a decent message and he didn’t act like Jesus was his BFF.

I left without giving the form back to the pastor, but the associate pastor chased me down in order to give me my gift! It was a bag with a coffee cup, some Hershey’s Kisses, a New Testament, a pen and a pack of Swiss Miss Hot Chocolate.

While the Acts 29 church was trying to woo me with Starbucks-like coffee, a rock band and donuts, the Baptist tried to win my heart with Swiss Miss Hot Chocolate.

Neither worked. I want calls to worship, benedictions, corporate prayer. I want corporate confessions of sin, and corporate assurances of pardons. I want singing where I can hear the congregation, and songs that are theologically accurate and Christ centered. I want good, solid Biblical preaching where the pastor strives to preach the full counsel of God. I want communion where the table is fenced and non-believers know that partaking of the communion in an unworthy manner is to drink judgment upon oneself. I want benedictions, and pastoral prayers, and the reading of Scripture.

I guess what I’m saying is that I want Reformed worship… and another pastorate.


32 thoughts on “The Death of Reverence, The Death of Holiness

  1. Oh, Man! You so understand what I’ve been going through! When we moved to Wichita, I returned to the church in which I grew up only to find it had changed into a rock n roll church. I was not comfortable at all, and then, when the pastor, quoted a divinity student in his newsletter, I sensed something was wrong with the message. So, I did a little internet browsing and found out the divinity student our pastor seemed to be so smitten with was a disciple of false teacher named John Piper. Where has the Bible believing-Bible preaching church of my youth gone? When we returned to Virginia, My wife and I went back to a small church we had visited several times in the past. The preacher is not eloquent, and often goes off topic, and his sermons are incredibly long– but he preaches the gospel, and the music is the good old hymns, and the congregation loves the Lord. I am not completely comfortable in this church, either, probably because I find it to be a little too literal (please don’t ask me to explain that. I’m not sure myself). Their women don’t cut their hair, or wear makeup or jewelry and wear long dresses. You wont see slacks on the women of Charity Church of God! The only version of the Bible they use is the King James Version, although that doesn’t bother me per se. I’m not sure there is a church that suits me, but so far, that one comes the closest. Anyway, I believe any church you’re comfortable in proabably isn’t the kind of church I need to attend. I need a church and a pastor that steps on my toes and holds me accountable for my sin.


    • Yes, I think we agree that it’s hard finding a good church. But alas, I think I would step on your toes. 🙂

      Have you ever listened to any of my sermons? Give it a shot. 🙂


  2. AMEN to both of you men!! The church has been infilatred by unbelievers on purpose to water the message down and to make the church appeal to the world. As believers, we are to gather together, die to self daily, and forsake the world and all its trappings. So sad what is happening to the churches but this has been planned to dumb down the churches . Looks like the plan has been a success.


  3. Sorry, Timothy. But I do understand wholeheartedly and I’m praying that the Lord will lead you to the church of His choice. Prayers, Julie


  4. I think what is mind-boggling is that I visited four churches this morning. Granted, I walked out on two, but the 8 minutes in the first one, and the 17 seconds at the front door of the second one was enough to assess that neither was the place for me.


  5. I am sorry you are having a hard time. I had similar frustrations to yours before embarking on this leg of my journey.

    I am struck, though, by your comment:

    I can accept being barred from the table over theological disagreements if those barring me are reverent before a holy and just God.

    That’s an admirable attitude. Many Protestants (including my dad) are quite offended by the practice of closed communion in our Church. I wonder, do you not think Catholics are reverent before a holy and just God? (Granted, there are “contemporary” and even “liberal” Catholics out there who fit the description of what you are running from.)


  6. The NT is silent as to styles of worship music. The instruction we have from Jesus is to worship in spirit and truth. This can be done in many different styles. I’ve traveled all over the world and watched everything from believers banging on a drum and chanting in the Amazon jungle to mega church styled worship in the West.

    I understand that the style you encountered didn’t “fit” your tradition but have some mercy because maybe that worship is just perfect for the people that attend the church.


    • I would love to have patience, if I thought they were actually worshipping. But they were not. No one was singing along, as we are to in corporate worship. What is taking place is entertainment, not worship.


      • Really, that’s interesting. So were people not singing because it was planned that way or did the people just not know the songs?

        Actually, I think it’s fine if people don’t sing, I often don’t sing and instead just meditate on God quietly while listening to others sing. Our church has a choir and when they sing, generally the congregation doesn’t sing along, it’s a form of worship that is wonderful in it’s own way. However, if I had my choice there would be plenty of opportunity for the whole congregation to join in the singing too.


      • Hi Caleb,
        Two thoughts. First, the Old Testament and New Testament both prescribe worship. In your earlier comment you made the suggestion that since the NT isn’t clear then we are open to do what we want. This is a common mistake that is made. We don’t have the freedom to worship as we please just because we are to worship in spirit and truth. That is a lie thrusted upon the church for the last 150 years. God has prescribed certain elements of worship: preaching of God’s word is the first and most important element of worship. The Reformers, and I agree, have understood that when this takes place faithfully, we are hearing from Christ Himself. When God moves in a person to convert or comfort, He does so through the preaching of His word and when it is done faithfully, we actually hear from Christ (Romans 10:14).

        But we have also been given prayer. This is spoken, silent and in song. These are our prayers to Him. This is why what we sing is so important. Are the songs about me, myself and I, the unholy trinity, or are they about the holy, Triune God who has revealed Himself to us in history. Do they teach us something about God so that we learn through them? Most praise music really says little about God, and some hymns as well. It is also music that we could say about our wives, etc. So it does nothing to lift us up and prepare to meet with a holy God.

        We also are given communion. This is to be a regular part of worship, yet far to many churches spend time on the music, and fail to exercise this element of worship that He has given for us to do. Baptism is the other sacrament.

        Then there are taking of lawful oaths and vows, which most of us do during our marriages, or when we join a church. These are all given for worship. Yet when it comes to the praise band, they drown out the congregation so that there is no longer participation. The same can be said about organs and choirs. All of wich are recent inventions with the church. It wasn’t until the 1800s that choirs were put together by the those like Charles Finney who sought to emotionally manipulate the congregations. Before then, singing was always done by the congregation and sometimes instruments were used.

        The reason so many fail in all this is because they think the Bible is about us and what we are doing, have done and will do. It is not. It is about God and what He has done, is doing and will do. When our focus changes, we move from being man-centered, as much of the band and praise music, to being Christ centered.

        As for the singing yesterday, I don’t think they were singing because you can’t hear it. They were standing, but why sing when the band drowns out our singing?

        Again, the problem is that this removes worship from the congregation and places it at the feet of the “clergy.”


  7. Amen, amen and amen! You’re right on about the priority of God’s Word and prayer in worship. In my earlier comment I simply stated, “The NT is silent as to styles of worship music.” The only caveat might be Ephesians 5:19 but I believe this refers more to content and attitude in personal relationships, however it could be applied to corporate worship as well.

    As for volume, I generally don’t understand why people feel the need to turn the volume up so high. That being said, it seems to me that there is very good evidence that heavenly worship will be much, much louder than we are used to here on earth. In Isaiah 6 the worship is so loud that the giant stone threshold and doorpost of the temple were actually shaking! Now that had to be some good worship that you could feel rumbling through your whole body! I can’t wait to experience it!


    • Hi Caleb,
      I know! The worship in heaven will be perfect. And there will be no more preferences, worship wars, arguments, etc. It will be wonderful.

      Those passages of worship in heaven are the guidelines for our worship here. It’s not the loudness per se, but the voices we want. Another vital point people miss. The NUMBER ONE instrument to be used in our songs is the one God made: our voices! That is what is to be loud, not the instruments. The instruments are to aid in worship, not dominate in worship, which is what they do when we let musicians lead us in an unrestrained mode.

      Good point on NT. Forgive me for misunderstanding that.


  8. Been there. Done that. Same results. When I moved here, I wrote to all the churches I could find within a 20 mile radius. I told them, “I’m looking for a church. Here’s what the Scriptures say about church. Are you like that?” Most didn’t respond. One responded and said, “No, and you need to change your perspective.” The two that responded positively lied.

    I found a local Reformed church and was pleased … for a short time. When I asked the pastor, “So, what does your church do to teach your people a deeper understanding of the Scriptures?” He pointed me to their groups. “These are studying Keller’s book on the Reformed faith and these others are going through a book on finances and …” “No,” I said, “I’m asking about a deeper study of Scripture.” We went back and forth several times until he finally said, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Don’t know what I’m talking about when I am asking if they study the Scriptures?

    I attend a Baptist church at present. They don’t want me there. I’m still looking. Nine years in place and counting.

    I’ve written a lot on worship. It’s a big thing to me. I’ve touched on the Regulative Principle of Worship, and written about what the Bible says about music. I’ve examined the modern medium of music, talked about exactly who worship is for, and warned of the biblical danger of loving the world, especially in worship. I share your concern.


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  10. Ditto…. everything you wrote I have done as I try to find a church in my area.

    My question is this: As Confessional Reformed Christians where attendance at Sabbath services each week is paramount, are we sinning by not attending or are we sinning by actually walking through the doors of these places? All over the web Confessional pastors tell us how important it is to belong to a body of believers, what to look for in choosing a church, etc. They seem to be unaware that there are parts of the country where there is not ONE Reformed congregation to be found. Our choices are Arminian, Lutheran, Keller-inspired “for the city transformational PCA, Catholic, Pentecostal, Charismatic…. What is the consensus here?


    • That is a really tough question. Are we enabling these churches by attending them? Part of that has to be answered with another question: are they true churches? The Reformers, Calvin, etc., believed that true bodies exhibited three traits: the preaching of the word, the sacraments and discipline. It is usually discipline that sinks most churches. But another issue that is overlooked is: are these churches in submission to anyone outside of their own authority structure? This is one of the reasons I do believe denominations are the best way to go, because in a denomination that is seeking to be faithful, there is submission to one another. The first church I visited on Sunday probably submits to no one but their own elders, all of which are younger than me. In other words, there is no wisdom in what they are doing. They never question any feeling that comes along because, it must be from God, right?

      I know, I’m not helping here. The music isn’t the real problem in all this, it is a much greater problem that drives the music.

      I think that Stan, and those who hold up the regulative principle, sort of get it. We all have problems with the regulative principle. I think it goes too far. But by ignoring it, we are no longer in submission to the elders of the past. Yes, God gave us those elders of the past that we need, in a sense, be submissive to their teaching. What many of these churches do is make the mistake of thinking they don’t need the past. In other words, they want to be a First Century church, thinking that they are more pure in their attempts. What they are actually doing when they do that is railing against God for placing them in the 21st Century.

      OK, seems like I need another post. This is complex… so I need to think more of it through.


  11. Well said and I have had similar experiences in the PCA and in other churches my family and I attend.

    I don’t want to be entertained. I don’t want to struggle to hear the people of God singing over the electric guitar and I certainly don’t want to sing the same verse of a praise song 34 times because the worship leader felt “led” to do so. I don’t like it when I have to stand quietly while we experiment with new songs and the video screens haven’t caught up with the right verses yet, assuming you can hear anything over the ecstatic utterances of the worship team. I don’t clap in church and I don’t really care to hear the announcements in the middle of the worship service.

    I get it. I really do. None of these things are necessarily sinful, but they are not my style at all and it is difficult for me to be a full, participating member of a congregation when I am constantly annoyed by the sideshow.

    I need to get over it, I know this, for the sake of my family and my relationship with God.

    It still hurts, though.


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  13. Dear Timothy:

    Thank you for your post. I understand your pain. As a matter of fact, one of the reasons why I eventually left the PCA was because of an inability to worship any longer at the General Assembly worship services. I adhere to the historic Presbyterian position of unaccompanied exclusive psalmody; however, the issue was broader than simply the content of worship song and the use of musical instruments, but had to do with the entire irreverence.

    Let me urge you, and any of your blog readers, to consider the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America (RPCNA) as a good option. To paraphrase Forrest Gump, “PCA worship is like a box of chocolates–you never know what you’re going to get!” By way of contrast, there is a much greater uniformity in the RPCNA–a quality control, if you will. If there isn’t an RPCNA congregation near where you are, please contact me (770-241-3946), and I will see what I can do to help you to start one.

    As an aside, I have recently resigned my suburban pastorate (Northminster RPC) in order to focus more extensively on our downtown Atlanta ministry, where we’ve been doing outreach for more than three years. Since December, we’ve been conducting weekly worship services (at first in a corner grocery store owned by a Muslim, and since the beginning of July at a local church). This is in the heroin and prostitution area of the city, in a largely black neighborhood called English Avenue and known informally as “the Bluff”. Before we start the service, we do Bible memory work and catechism questions and answers. Our worship consists of prayer, singing of Psalms, reading Scripture, and preaching. I have discovered a sincerity there and a receptivity of the Word of God–things often missing in the suburbs. I believe that people are all alike, no matter the color of their skin or their ethnicity or their background: everyone has the same spiritual needs, and everyone needs to worship God in Spirit and in truth–or, we could say, as He has commanded. Our prayer is that King Jesus would be pleased to use our puny efforts in a needy yet strategic area of Atlanta to turn the city upside down, and to rekindle an awareness of worshipping the Lord in the beauty of holiness.

    Frank J. Smith, Ph.D., D.D.
    Minister, Atlanta Presbyterian Fellowship (RPCNA), Atlanta, Georgia
    Pastor, Northminster Reformed Presbyterian Church (RPCNA), Suwanee, Georgia


  14. I’m not trying to sound judgmental…and I appreciate your zeal to uphold and honor God’s holiness…but your post sounds a lot like a rant. While I could sense your emotion regarding the worship “experience” you had at the Acts 29 church (I’m a fan of their church planting movement by the way) much of it was lost in a lot of the other assertions you made in your post.

    I’m on the worship (band) team at my church and to be honest your comments are not only harmful…but they are also hurtful. We are very mindful of Christ’s preeminence when we facilitate worship (we use facilitate at our reformed church because Christ is the true worship leader) at our church. We are keenly aware that our goal is not to move people by our music or songs and we are not attempting to create some kind of emotional experience to take the place of God blessing and filling our hearts as we sing his truths back to him. We also understand that there is absolutely nothing wrong with contextualization as long as the gospel is upheld and honored in the process. I find it interesting that you pointed us to 1 John in your post but said nothing about Paul’s words in 1 Cor. 9. You seemed to mock “worship bands” and compare them to Jay-Z and yet you fail to acknowledge that years ago the same arguments were had when people wanted to use an organ. I agree with Caleb that there are many styles and preferences when it comes to worship that do work for some and don’t for others. When we sing worship songs (including some HYMNS) with the full band, people sing along. Many people even make it a point to approach us afterwards and tell us how much they appreciate our modernization of the rich and reformed theological and biblically accurate “songs of old”. Some have even made it a point to tell us how they remember hearing the hymns as kids, but because the music was so outdated they seemed ritualistic than worshipful. So, musical style can make a difference (for better or for worse) and it certainly goes both ways.

    While I agree that we must pay close attention to the lack of reverence seen in many churches today, I think we must also be careful not to canonize worship styles when the scriptures certainly does not. Luther was able to take bar tunes and turn them into HYMNS. Should he have been ashamed of himself for doing this, or is it possible that God was glorified in his efforts? One could read 1 Cor. 10:31 correctly, and still say that he was faithful.

    I pray that you are able to find a service that allows you the ability to worship in spirit and in truth. I pray that God will give you mercy for those with whom you don’t understand and/or agree with…and that he will also give you the ability to see that even though a worship team may consist of a full band…that their is still the chance that gospel-centered, God-glorifying and Christ-exalting worship can take place in God’s church.

    For His Glory,



    • Jason,
      The “bar” in Luther’s “bar tunes” actually refers to the presence of measure bars in the written music and has nothing to do with the tunes supposedly originating in a drinking establishment. Its disheartening to hear people using this total misunderstanding of history to justify worldliness in the Church. I appreciate that you are convicted that God wants you to play this type of music in His presence and lead others to do the same. I’m not the arbiter of “style” anointed by anyone to judge. But I ask you to consider, if you were misled into believing that Martin Luther used existing pub music in worship, is it possible that you should examine some of the other things being said about modern pop music in worship?


      • Charles, thank you for pointing that out. I considere the Luther “bar tunes” error to be pulpit fiction. It will never die because too many lazy preachers love to keep repeating it.


      • Charles:

        Color me embarrassed…I stand corrected. I must admit that I was simply regurgitating a misnomer that heard somewhere…which I now see is legend to try an make a point. I’ll be more careful in the future to ensure I’m not perpetuating falsehood while trying to make a point. Thank you for the correction.

        Nonetheless, I think (regardless of the context of Luther’s bar tunes) my point remains the same. When Luther chose to write hymns with “bar form” he did so as a way to help people learn/memorize the music. This was a contextualization in order to help facilitate corporate worship. If today’s modernization of hymns is done in the same heart, then why are we so up-in-arms about it now? I’m not suggesting that every band that plays on a Sunday morning is seeking to honor Christ first…I found the resource linked in this post (Open Letter to Praise Bands) very helpful and I appreciated it as well. However, one cannot simply cast off all worship bands as attention-seekers and glory-thieves, simply because some worship bands are doing things wrong.

        As far as considering the question you raised about me being misled on Luther. I have and will continue to examine modern worship music and if I am being faithful in my efforts to facilitate worship at our local church. Bob Kauflin (SGM) wrote a good book on the subject (Worship Matters) and John Piper has a wonderful resource on this as well (Gravity and Gladness). Both of these resources get to the heart of what worship really is about. To me, as long as our aim is to honor Christ, to glorify him through our worship and to uphold his scripture and his truth and encourage others to do the same…then there are countless of ways in which this can be accomplished to the glory of God.

        I for one I’m not willing to ostracize the method simply because it has been done poorly by someone else.

        For His Glory,



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  16. I to have found it hard to locate a church where there is a sense of the sacred. Even in the Lutheran and Reformed traditions, there seems to be nowhere to worship God in reverence and awe. There is nothing sacred in America anymore, or in the western world in general, nor any sense of the holiness of God and I fear our churches reflect the same attitude. I pray for another Reformation to sweep the Churches in the western world where our worship will reflect being in the presence of our triune God along with the angels and the saints that have gone before us.


  17. I hadn’t considered that enabling false churches by attending them might be an issue or a sin for that matter. But how about idolatry? For example, if we as the “sheep”only hear weekly, monthly, and yearly about God’s love for us, comforting as that is, but nothing at all about God’s wrath and hatred of our sin, we not only cannot understand the Gospel and how a loving God could sacrifice his own son on the cross but we end up worshipping a false god, a god created by our pastors, a god who is easier to “deal with,” a seeker-sensitive, post-modern idol, not the God of scripture. Thus, would we not then be unwittingly guilty of breaking the 2nd commandment just by walking in the door, regardless if we are singing rockin’ praise songs or old hymns?

    Perhaps the style of music and its decibel level is less important than the message it is giving. Are the words scriptural? Are they truncating who God really is in favor of an idol? Are they extoling our virtues and emotions? And old hymns can often be just as flawed as newer praise songs. (Our Lutheran (Missouri Synod) friends at Table Talk Radio have taken the time to listen to many praise and worship songs and compared them to scripture in their Praise Song Cruncher segments.)

    Above all, when we sing it should be about Christ and what He has accomplished for us (and not about us, our devotion and our “feelings” about Him.) When we hear scripture read, we need to remember that scripture is about Christ and what He has already done for us and not read ourselves into the text. When our pastors preach about us, our problems, our emotions and our issues, we need to realize that subjective, man-centered preaching is not Biblical preaching, is not faithful preaching, and is powerless to transmit the Gospel to the lost.


    • I think you are spot on in your assessment. Another reason why the Armenian based theology is so destructive. It’s based upon man and man’s ability instead of God and His grace from the get go. But it also ignores the wrath of God in so many instances. I went to a church like this in Wichita Falls before going to seminary. The pastor stated that they could win more people with honey than vinegar. Never mind that God used vinegar to show us the sting of sin. The problem was, I never really felt like the members knew Christ at all, but were just happy and religious at best. That church is blowing and going right now.

      All of the word of God is to be preached, not just the loving parts.


  18. Ronda,
    Good points but I believe you are assuming that music styles are neutral which it isn’t. I found this out while attending a “worship service” where a young woman danced around in a suggestive manner to the music. This seemed more pagan to me than Christian.


  19. My husband and I came to the PCA from a 25-year membership in the Reformed Church in the U.S., culture shock, to say the least, and we have no viable alternative without relocating, which we are not able to do. Our hearts echo the sentiments in this post!


  20. The New Testament says nothing about the style of the music presented as a sacrifice, or a means of edification?

    Instead of looking for a proof text, have you (a generic, all inclusive, term! SMILE!) considered the character of God (which hasn’t changed from the days of Sinai (Heb 12:28-29); or the nature of Man (Isa. 64:6, Rom. 6:1-14, 8:1-2, 23-25); the authority of Christ Jesus as our Worship Leader (Heb. 2:12, 2 Cor. 10:5-7); or of the Word of God (2 Tim. 3:16-17)? What about the responsibility of The Musicians (compare Col. 3:16 and 1:28 in context)? or of The Congregation?

    Let’s see . . . what major doctrine hasn’t been referenced?

    Oh yes, Angelology (I Pet. 1:1-16, actually an arbitrary stopping point).

    Etc. etc. etc.

    Timothy, I share your sadness . . . and I’m a Minister of Music hampered by pastors who rule (I Pet. 5:1-5) and congregations who are generally (note the caveat!) quite content to be ‘saved’ whether or not they are growing (Heb 5:11-14, 2 Pet. 3:18).

    (I prefer to remain anonymous out of respect for the pastors and congregations I’ve served.)


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