We who preach the gospel must not think of ourselves as public relations agents sent to establish good will between Christ and the world. We must not imagine ourselves commissioned to make Christ acceptable to big business, the press, the world of sports or modern education. We are not diplomats but prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum. A.W. Tozer
Therefore let God-inspired Scripture decide between us; and on whichever side be found doctrines in harmony with the word of God, in favor of that side will be cast the vote of truth. --Basil of Caesarea
Once you learn to discern, there's no going back. You will begin to spot the lie everywhere it appears.

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service. 1 Timothy 1:12

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Random Apostasies and Heresies

I am currently working on an article on Henry Blackaby, which I was hoping to be finished with by now for posting, but time has a way of getting away from me!  So today I’m giving you another episode of random things I’ve read on the ‘net.

There has been a lot going on in the blogosphere about Rick Warren and his compromising with Islam.  Information has been changing and updating almost daily.  The main point is that Warren has already compromised with Islam, and now seems to be going even farther.  I will provide links to four of the latest articles for your perusal and challenge you to follow the story as it unravels.   The first one is from Sola Sisters blog, while the second, third and fourth are from Apprising Ministries.  Personally, I think Warren is being less than honest about the situation.
Mark Driscoll revisited.  The man has sex on the brain.  World Net Daily posted a commentary by David Kupelian about Driscolls obsession with sex.  Driscoll has even been interviewed, with his wife, on The View, a TV show NO Christian should sanction by appearing on.  Yet the Driscolls went on the show to discuss their book Real Marriage.  I just don’t understand why any mature Christian would listen to this man.

An “Open Letter to Praise Bands” has been the topic of several blogs I follow.  I think the author has a lot of good things to say.  Here is the most important section, which should be given much attention:

1. If we, the congregation, can't hear ourselves, it's not worship. Christian worship is not a concert. In a concert (a particular "form of performance"), we often expect to be overwhelmed by sound, particularly in certain styles of music. In a concert, we come to expect that weird sort of sensory deprivation that happens from sensory overload, when the pounding of the bass on our chest and the wash of music over the crowd leaves us with the rush of a certain aural vertigo. And there's nothing wrong with concerts! It's just that Christian worship is not a concert. Christian worship is a collective, communal, congregational practice--and the gathered sound and harmony of a congregation singing as one is integral to the practice of worship. It is a way of "performing" the reality that, in Christ, we are one body. But that requires that we actually be able to hear ourselves, and hear our sisters and brothers singing alongside us. When the amped sound of the praise band overwhelms congregational voices, we can't hear ourselves sing--so we lose that communal aspect of the congregation and are encouraged to effectively become "private," passive worshipers.
2. If we, the congregation, can't sing along, it's not worship. In other forms of musical performance, musicians and bands will want to improvise and "be creative," offering new renditions and exhibiting their virtuosity with all sorts of different trills and pauses and improvisations on the received tune. Again, that can be a delightful aspect of a concert, but in Christian worship it just means that we, the congregation, can't sing along. And so your virtuosity gives rise to our passivity; your creativity simply encourages our silence. And while you may be worshiping with your creativity, the same creativity actually shuts down congregational song.
3.  If you, the praise band, are the center of attention, it's not worship. I know it's generally not your fault that we've put you at the front of the church. And I know you want to model worship for us to imitate. But because we've encouraged you to basically import forms of performance from the concert venue into the sanctuary, we might not realize that we've also unwittingly encouraged a sense that you are the center of attention. And when your performance becomes a display of your virtuosity--even with the best of intentions--it's difficult to counter the temptation to make the praise band the focus of our attention. When the praise band goes into long riffs that you might intend as "offerings to God," we the congregation become utterly passive, and because we've adopted habits of relating to music from the Grammys and the concert venue, we unwittingly make you the center of attention. I wonder if there might be some intentional reflection on placement (to the side? leading from behind?) and performance that might help us counter these habits we bring with us to worship.
I don’t know about you, but I am really tired of all these books purporting to be about visits to heaven.  Not a single one has anything biblical in them, yet Christians buy these books by the boat-load!  Sola Sisters has posted an article about an interview between Brannon Howse and Justin Peters discussing this topic.  Additionally, DiscernIt blog has posted an article by David Cloud which discusses other claims of trips to heaven by Word of Faith heretics.  The main thing to remember is that any claim to visit heaven is a blatant lie.


ali said...

Might I take the liberty of adding Pat Robertson to this list of notables:

Pat Robertson, host of "The 700 Club," said Monday during the program's airing that God does not send tornadoes "to kill people" and that those affected by the deadly string of twisters in the Midwest and Southeast only had themselves to blame for living in tornado-prone areas.

Obviously Robertson and I are not reading the same Bible for it clearly says that God is in control of EVERYTHING, not some things - EVERYTHING!

Thanks for allowing me to sound off.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...


I disagree with you. God set up the physics of this universe, and He permits it to operate. While He MAY choose to used nature for punishment, there is nothing in Scripture which says He directs every storm to kill people. What we see is that He permits His creation to operate as designed.

Scripture does NOT say that God controls everything like a master puppeteer, although I understand that is the 5-point Calvinist view. If that was the case, then God would be the author of sin.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Just for clarification - I agree that Pat Robertson is a false teacher, even if he does occasionally get something right. After all, even a stopped clock is correct twice a day!

ali said...

If G-d brings the sunshine, does he not also bring the rain?

Either G-d is in control of everything or He is in control of nothing.

I am not a Calvanist, but I believe G-d is Sovereign in the affairs of man and will do what He will do - regardless of whether I understand or not.

Things that come into our lives are designed to conform us into the image of His Son,and G-d will do whatever it takes to achieve that end, whatever.

In my many years, seldom have I seen G-d do things the way I thought they should be done - but He always did it the best way.

G-d "worketh all things after the counsel of His own will: That we should be to the praise of His glory" (Ephesians 1:11-12). Yes, God is in control.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

God being Sovereign does not mean that everything which happens is caused by Him. In your system, every time a tornado happens, God caused it directly. This is not biblical. God created the physics which allow such weather to happen. Nothing in Scripture says that God controls every weather pattern.

God is still in control in that He can choose at any time to intervene in His universe which He established, but normally He allows things to take place in the natural laws which HE established. Being in control does not mean he is a puppeteer.

God USES that which enters our lives, but to say God controls every detail of our lives and the universe makes him the author and cause of sin.

ali said...

I choose to believe I am not a victim of random circumstance - but that a Sovereign God directs the affairs of man and this gives me comfort and hope.

You might take a peek at my recent blog post addressing this.

So my friend, let us agree to disagree.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

So then you believe that you make no decisions of your own, that they are all made by God? That every time a car crashes God causes it? That every time there is an earthquake, tornado, hurricane or even thunderstorm, God is causing it? That every time a little girl gets raped God is causing it?

That is the logical outcome of what you are claiming.

Michael Burdick said...

Part One:

I both agree and disagree with the "open letter" quotes of what is and what is not worship.   In anticipation of the inevitable debate, I will cover more ground than what was quoted, because, unfortunately the attempt to define what is or is not worship in the terms stated is poor wording at best and gross legalism at worst.  
Psalms and Hymns and spiritual songs in their myriad of expressions throughout Scripture and Church history are far to varied to number.  More extreme versions include those glorifying God on the day of Pentecost in tongues who were accused of being drunk and David dancing before the Lord--naked I believe, or at least in only a loin cloth.   And yet, the quotes in your blog demand we adhere to a very thin slice of a pie that has been baking for the last several thousand years.  The earlier Protestant method of congregational singing does not, in and of itself, determine that what is taking place is achieving worship.  Nor does it define by it's limits what is or is not to be considered as acceptable worship.  Congregational singing is but one genre' of worship--nothing more or less.
So traditional Protestant music was meant to be sung by the congregation. So what?  Plenty can be said about "that old time religion" which is not in its favor.  Corrupt lyrics, worshiping with our lips only (a danger in any genre'), and judgmental attitudes spurred on by those who still feel that "This is the correct way to worship"  (as if worship hadn't been invented until they came along) are but a few examples of its inherent carnality--nose in the air please.   
As to content, if you read the words of the few songs that have survived from that period in Church History, you will find a greater proportion of them focus on singing the truth about God and/or correct doctrine (often as a reaction against Catholics).  It is true this was a good thing to the extent that it focused on The Word and was not as 'passive' in that everybody was supposed to sing along.  Great!  Bring it on.  But just singing the song as a group does not guarantee worship is taking place and, in fact, the action of singing itself can and does lead some to believe they have worshiped simply because they went through the motions.  I've certainly done my share of it.
Additionally, the choir (as with the band) can just as easily become the central focus in terms of who is fit to sing in it because they have the best voice; are the best organist or pianist, wear the best robes; and set the best examples of those who are living a life 'acceptable' enough to be allowed to join--yes I've been denied membership in a choir because I wasn't 'holy' enough.  So the "center of attention issue" is still a danger. 
Meanwhile, contemporary music is meant (like any song you listen to over and over) to be heard when preformed and sung if possible.  If you can't sing it, so what? Some people can't sing no matter what the genre'.  True, it is more "consumer oriented", but like all songs (secular or sacred), these works of the heart are meant to be remembered throughout the day if they so move you.  True, it tends to create within the hearer more of an internal reaction resulting from just listening--but isn't  the heart the seat of worship

Michael Burdick said...

Part Two:
anyway?  Just because modern songs trend more to "passive" internalization does not ipso facto make those who listen automatically passive.  Just singing a congregational hymn can be equally passive if the words are sung only by the lips--and more deceptively so.  We either worship in spirit and truth or we do not.  Whether congregational or contemporary, that is an issue of the individual, not the genre'. 
There is also a subtle shift in the focus of modern lyrics which tends toward singing to God about a personal relationship rather than aboutHim regarding doctrine, but again, so what?  Do you think He prefers hearing us singing the truth about Him more than our relationship with Him?  Are they not both equally important?   Just because contemporary songs trend more towards the "experiential" in terms of a relationship with God rather than doctrinal proclamations about Him does not mean one is better than the other.  Either can be just as edifying or corrupted. 
It is true that, rhythm, beat, volume and instrumental solos are also employed to encourage you to move or provide a selah moment of a modern flavor--big deal!  MOVE, dance, throw your hands in the air or just sit and soak it in and praise the Lord.  It is not necessary for me to hear the person next to me to worship Him -- indeed it's occasionally preferable not to hear them.  The point is, There is nothing inherently wrong with any of this.  None of the criticisms leveled against Contemporary Christian music get to the heart of what is or is not worship.  In all cases, when these songs are accurately based on scripture and born of a heart that desires to share worship with others, they magnify a truth from The Word and reflect it to enable the hearer to relate to The Lord in accordance with the working of the Holy Spirit.  Whether traditional or contemporary, these songs can become both prayer and praise in the heart of the believer and that is when worship takes place.  Even when the motives of the musician are selfish Christ is preached.  If Paul didn't mind it, we shouldn't either.  Those who sing from selfish motives have their reward on this earth but God can still use it in the hearts of those who hear.  Are YOU qualified to know what is going on in the heart of the musician? 
Nevertheless, Contemporary Christian music, (like the traditional) also has it's down side.  It can more easily create a false sense of worship just because of its inherent ability to produce a purely emotional response with no spiritual benefit; it can create music idols, self-centered worship leaders, singers and bands and any number of other stray paths some of which you quote from the open letter.  But again, these weakness are not unique to the Contemporary genre'.   The negative issues inherent in both contemporary and traditional methods result from carnality --- and carnality rears it's ugly head in every Christian endeavor--not just methods of worship.
Looking at it from another direction, consider the lost music and style of the Psalms.  I think God very wisely allowed the actual music that went with the Psalms to be lost lest we be locked in a stagnated form of worship based solely on "how they did it in the Bible 3000 years ago".  Can you imagine what would happen if we DID know the style, instrumentation, rhythm and beat they used back then?  I can easily envision the inquisition should somebody start singing Amazing Grace under those conditions. 

Michael Burdick said...

Part Three:

If you doubt it, look at the way the issue is already being handled.  And by the way, all of Israel's "holy hymnody" didn't keep them from being slaughtered by Babylon for the same heartless lip service they gave God back then any more than it will spare us now.  Clearly genre' has nothing to do with it.
Hence, music and it's multitude of expressions simply IS NOT the correct direction from which to address the issue of what is or is not worship.  Ideally speaking:  When the performer's heart is set on the Lord in the production and performance of the song and if  the person hearing and/or, singing the song has his heart is set on the Lord, and if  the Holy Spirit is moving to empower all of this then worship is taking place.  THESE are the basic elements of communal worship no matter WHAT form it takes whether it's Traditional Protestant Congregational Singing; Southern Gospel, Contemporary Christian, Catholic Choirs in Nunneries, Orthodox Chants in Monasteries, or Medieval Orchestra productions such as Handel's Messiah.  It doesn't matter if the music is ancient or modern, loud or soft, instrumental or acapella.   Every tribe and every nation will worship Him be it Scottish, Middle Eastern, African, Chinese, Russian, American, Indian or Eskimo.  To qualify worship in the terms of the open letter you quote has no basis in logic, scripture, or history.  You are getting no closer to worship than your own personal taste.  The idea that worship must all sound like something produced and performed roughly 200 to 300 years ago in Protestant Europe and America is the musical version of "King James Only"---equally ludicrous, equally divisive.   When God says "Sing a new song unto the Lord" He means it.  Whether or not it is worthy of being called worship is for God to determine and reward on an individual basis.  It is certainly not something to be judged in the narrow terms described by the author of the quotes in your blog.  To the extent these quotes do so, the author (and those who promote his views) judge only themselves.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...


Now, you read much more into the article about the open letter that what was complained about.  The complaint was the loud rock and roll performance of so-called praise bands during church service.  I agree with the guy 100%%.  Those things are all about entertainment - period.  I've been a witness to such garbage.  The author's complaint was about that and that only.

As far as some of the other stuff you touched on, lyrics are very important.  Whether you sing to or about God isn't the issue - the issue is whether they are doctrinally sound and whether they are all about self, which so many nowadays are.  Age of the song has no bearing, although you will certainly find fewer doctrinally-incorrect songs from the past than from the present.

Michael Burdick said...

As to the "fewer doctrinally-incorrect songs from the past",  there were ten's of thousands of hymns written and lost to history during that period; so to claim they were more or less accurate in proportion to what is sung now is not an argument you can make with knowledge.  I suggest you read through your hymnal (most of it is never sung) and judge by the doctrinal inaccuracies you find in what did survive, then extrapolate the proportion of inaccurate songs in the hymnal as a method of determining a rough percentage of inaccurate songs lost to history.  It is likely the ones that did not survive actually had a higher proportion of inaccuracy and were weeded out for that reason--but I can't prove that either. 
As to the modern stuff and it's venue'--of course much of it is junk (as much of what has come and gone throughout the ages is junk)  but the article singles out only one genre and generalizes its complaint across the board as a method of defining worship--this is equivocation plain and simple.  Additionally, you focus only on that narrow slice of Church History in which the Protestant form and format of congregational singing  is used--and even more specifically on correct performance. You forget that, compared with the entire history of worship, it is but a small slice in time of all that has been accepted by God as worship.  It then uses this as a means to define what is and is not worship.  This is apples and oranges.  .  The definition of worship is as I described it in the bolded portion in the latter part of my essay. It is not arrived at through a critique of the genre' because that has changed dramatically throughout the ages.
What is of Him will be heard in Heaven forever.  What is not will pass away.  But what God does with what is now being produced is not an issue in terms of whether or not He receives it as worship because that ultimately comes from the heart of the believer regardless (often in spite of) of the genre'.  If you want to address my points, you may want to take them one at a time and see if they stand on their own. If each point is accurate (and they are) the argument stands.  As it is, the article is  using taste to determine what is and is not worship rather than arriving at the definition through the spiritual elements I described and therefore, falls on it's own sword.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Let's just say that of the many hymn books I have had (Lutheran, Baptist, Plymouth Brethren, and the current one at our fundamental Bible Church), there are much fewer with bad lyrics than there are of the current genre of those many, many of which I have examined.

There are, of course, some solid current ones, such as by Stuart Townend, but most of what passes for "praise" and "worship" today is either doctrinally vacuous or aberrant/heretical, or self-focused - let alone repetitious.

The article is about the current genre of which is the MAIN type in the seeker-sensitive, market-driven, entertainment-oriented church today, which is a large percentage of the churches, unfortunately!

Your definition of worship has no bearing on the critique of the article.  He was making a point about how the so-called "worship" was performed and why it is NOT worship - he wasn't defining what worship is, only that what was passing as worship was not so.

I had no problem with your points and didn't see a need to discuss them further except to say they really had no bearing on the article itself.

Michael Burdick said...

Genre does not define worship any more than skin color defines character--but as you wish.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

The "genre" we're speaking of is the performance and performers.  Of course the particular songs with bad lyrics are included in that.  But the article was about performers and performances.

Michael Burdick said...

No -- this was a biased view of what is and is not worship based on details of the genre and personal preference.  Note the following excerpts on what few paragraphs you quoted:

1. If we, the congregation, can't hear ourselves, it's not worship".  
2. Christian worship is not a concert"
3. Christian worship is a collective, communal, congregational practice. . ."
4. The gathered sound and harmony of a congregation singing as one is integral to the practice of worship.
5. If we, the congregation, can't sing along, it's not worship.
 6. If you, the praise band, are the center of attention, it's not worship

Conversely, my definition  of what is or is not worship admits (indeed embraces) the reality of all genre's of music, style, and movement that have been expressed  throughout history and around the world because its foundation, its basis, is above and beyond genre'.  It is scriptural, not cultural.   It looks for its substance in the elements of the Filling of the Holy Spirit; the heart of the performer as focused on glorifying God and the heart of the Christian likewise centered.  It doesn't matter whether you're singing a congregational Protestant hymn (as demanded by the author to fulfill his definition) or rolling around in the grass and braying like Balaam's Donkey--If all three of the elements of my definition are present, worship is taking place with or without your pleasure or recognition. And in the case of #6, sometimes worship is taking place even if the performer is self-centered because God can use even that in the heart of the believer despite the performers intentions.
ALL genre's have their strengths and weaknesses because carnality is not a respecter of motives or their resulting actions.  Unfortunately, traditional legalism is always (always, always) used against whatever is new or different where Christian worship is concerned.
This is not to say that we must accept everything out there either.  Some stuff is corrupted junk--bad seed is bad seed--BUT if the elements I've used in my definition are attendant, then junk is not what will be produced because the Holy Spirit does not produce junk in the hearts of those who are seeking to glorify God regardless of your opinion.  The only person missing out on worship in these cases is the one who is self-blinded by legalism.  Hence, his article is specious; superficially plausible but actually wrong; attractive but misleading. 

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

BUT the CONTEXT was not about other worship practices, nor was the CONTEXT about worship in general.  The CONTEXT was about the so-called praise and worship bands and their performance.

Michael Burdick said...

The quotes speak for themselves. The context, as abundantly revealed by the author's own words, is about what does and does not constitute worship--- but he is going at it backwards. We must first define worship apart from any genre' and then apply it accordingly.

He basis his definition on a generalized and subjective opinion from within the context of a thin sliver of performance details in a particular genre' in an even thinner slice of time and culture and in accordance with his own traditional preferences. This is the error of his approach and from that springs the fatal flaw of his definition. To try and deny this and hide behind the word "context" as a defense is merely semantic obfuscation.

It doesn't matter that he does not include other worship practices. By defining worship "from the outside in" as he does, it is clear he would be required by his own definition to then judge other practices, because, what is and is not worship would necessarily springs from that definition. His definition is therefore selective and subjective rather than the objective "inside out" and biblically based definition I gave.

If I walk into a Zulu village and see them men all dressed up in feathers and thongs, the women naked from the waist up, and all doing a native dance around a fire in their style of music and instrumentation to words from a song I do not recognize, I doubt I would think it was Christian worship. If Iater I discovered the words were those of worship to Christ it would not be for me to judge the genre', I would have to return to the biblical definition and ask four questions.
Did the Holy Spirit inspire them?
Were the performers seeking to glorify God?
Did the tribe actually worship Him?
Did God receive it as such?
If the answers to these questions are yes, I am in no position to judge the genre' as would the author of the open letter. Unfortunately, this also creates a problem. I cannot objectively KNOW for certain the heart of either the Zulu's or God's opinion of their worship practices. But there is a twofold solution:

1) I should first pray to see what fruit their worship bears--The Lord will reveal it to those who, in love, seek The Truth. It is indeed one of the main ministries of the Holy Spirit to do so.

2) I should then lay aside my preconceived notions of what is and is not worship and join in the dance. I need not fear to do so because the Holy Spirit will be quick to show me His opinion. If, and only if, I'm willing to listen with an open mind and heart of love, it is likely I will then find a new expression of worship that will edify me in ways I never imagined possible.

Those who become exclusive in their definitions of worship based on subjective opinions of taste and born of traditional leanings only blind themselves to all the wonders of other forms of worship they could experience if only they would first seek the truth from God's perspective rather than their own.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

The quotes speak ONLY about the subject at hand, which was about the performance of the bands. It was an "Open letter to Praise Bands" about their performance - NOT about worship in general. You can't take comments which were about praise band performance and try to apply them to worship in general, and then knock down the claim. That is called a straw man logic fallacy. There was no place in the article where the author was defining worship in general or what wasn't worship in general. He was defining worship solely in relation to the "praise band" performance, and of THAT what was or wasn't worship.

All your arguments are about a straw man you have built!

Michael Burdick said...

1. If we, the congregation, can't hear ourselves, it's not worship".  therefore all genre's that do not include congregational singing are not worship?
2. Christian worship is not a concert"    SAYS WHO???
3. Christian worship is a collective, communal, congregational practice. . ."   IN ALL CASES?
4. The gathered sound and harmony of a congregation singing as one is integral to the practice of worship.  SAYS WHO??
5. If we, the congregation, can't sing along, it's not worship. SAYS WHO??
6. If you, the praise band, are the center of attention, it's not worship     Not if the hearer is focusing on worshiping God despite the attempt of the band to be the center of attention

Calling my position a straw man argument is only a red herring.  I can't help it if the definition I have given applies to all genre's including praise band performances. It is not a straw man argument, it is only more comprehensive in scope and is thus able to argue from the greater to the lesser as applied to his opinions and find them lacking.
Again I say that his statements are clear definitions of what is and is not worship regardless of whether or not there is a praise band involved --and who is he to lay these rules even on a praise band performance?   His argument not only fails on it's own but also on all extrapolated applications because he is setting up principles that necessarily exclude other forms of worship.  The fact that Christians can worship alone or in groups without any music at all proves that what is and is not worship is not based on genre but on something else. 
If someone said; "People who mix only two kinds of fruit in a bowl and call it a fruit salad are wrong.  A fruit salad should have not less than three fruits in it.  It should only use fruits from the citrus family and it must be served in a bowl"  You can quickly see how easily I could destroy that argument by first defining what truly constitutes a fruit salad and then apply that definition to any number of mixtures of fruits including those which do (or do not) contain nuts, jello, and toppings and are served in any number of different containers.  The fact that my STARTING point is the definition and is thus able to be applied to any mixture is what enables me to argue from the greater to the lessor while the other person is starting with a few opinions and working their way to a definition of a fruit salad from the other direction whether they intend to or not.  This is only one area where the author has failed.  He is also being subjective and arguing from preference, denominational tradition, and a limited time span in Church history.  
Finally, you refuse to address the validity of all the points I am making because you know as soon as you do, you will be forced to admit these facts. 
So, for the last time, we must start with a definition of what worship is apart from genre'.  If you do not like the definition I gave, then give me one that satisfies you and use it to discuss the merit of his opinions about praise bands, or any other genre for that matter.  But whatever you think, do please stop skirting the issue. 

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Michael, did you even understand what I just wrote about a straw man? You pretend a claim was made against all genre of worship, as demonstrated below with your red questions, and then you attacked that claim - you set up the straw man and attacked it. But the claim itself was directed at praise band performances and how they were done pretty much as a rock and roll concert. That is the only issue that was discussed in context. Not other forms of worship, not worship in general, etc. It was directed solely at the praise band performances which were more entertainment-oriented, self-focused, etc. You even noted here, "The definition I have given..." but your definition had nothing to do with the topic at hand. The definitions given by the author were only in the context of so-called praise bands and were never intended to be all-inclusive. YOU built a straw man as to what the definitions were to include.

You analogy of fruit salad is only valid if the comments were about a particular type of fruit salad as defined by the person who envisions it, not to all fruit salads.

We don't have to address "the validity of all the points" you are making, because they have nothing to do with the context - the subject - at hand. The subject is NOT worship in general, it is not the definition of worship in general --- it is only whether or not what the praise bands are doing in a particular context can be considered proper worship. You are trying to broaden the argument beyond anything thing the author intended, and I'm not going to allow that. Stick to just the argument he makes against loud, raucous, entertainment-oriented, self-focused praise bands.

Michael Burdick said...

Fine. I'll start all over and begin with the 6 points (and my comments in red) which I chose from his quote. I will now add that in order for him to make such statements, he must be doing so based on some as yet undefined definition of worship from which he draws his conclusions. So what I want to know is: what is his definition of worship?

Glenn E. Chatfield said...


I don't understand your problem. You are making a mountain out of a molehill. The guy wasn't trying to define what it or isn't worship, yet that is what your are taking him to task for. He was simply making a point about the way praise bands operate - no more, no less. He was simply pointing out what is or isn't acceptable for worship in regards to praise band entertainment. Every blog on which I've seen that open letter discussed there has never been a disagreement with what he said, and that is even from fundamental pastors.

It's like Jesus telling a parable. You can't take the parable beyond the intent of the story told, and too many people try to do just that. Not every element in a parable has anything but face meaning, and yet people will argue and argue about all the supposed esoteric meanings behind it.

This was really easy to understand. He is simply saying, "HEY, praise bands. You are becoming too obnoxious, too raucous, to self-focused and have become nothing more than a form of entertainment - and that isn't worship, nor does it help with worship."

He did not set out to define what worship is or isn't, which is what you are making out of it.

Michael Burdick said...

I don't care what others have said and I don't understand why you can't answer a simple question. Before any of us can make an accurate discernment about whether or not what certain Christian bands do is or is not worship, we must first define worship. That is as plain as the honker on your bagpipes. He says:

Christian worship is a collective, communal, congregational practice. . ."

and it is inaccurate. Christian worship need not involve anyone except a single Christan on his knees praising God alone at home. Communally, praise bands, choirs, chants, incense, candles, cantors, congregation singing, dance and any number of other practices have been variously used in all denominations throughout the centuries and around the world to edify believers and help them come into a state of worship. But worship ultimately only happens (or not) in the heart of the believer regardless of the application of any of these details.

He lays down a narrow definition based on culture, denominational tradition and preference. Then he brings in correlations and uses them to attack praise bands and certain details about their performance which he excludes as worship based on that definition. In doing so his definition necessitates the same critique of all other forms of worship that do not conform to his opinion whether he intends to do so or not. This makes his entire position specious because he is picking away at details (working from the outside in) instead of starting with a working definition and the applying it consistently (from the inside out).

Meanwhile, you refuse to deal with all I've been saying even when I approach the discussion from the direction you request---which is why my answer to all his statements is "SAYS WHO?" Unless you can first provide me with a definition of worship there is no point in continuing this string. If you DO provide me with a working definition we can then turn to what he says about these bands and decide on that basis whether or not what they are doing is worship.

So, again I ask: define worship. We will then be free to accurately discuss the behavior of these bands and the validity of his open letter.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Michael, Michael, Michael,

That single statement itself was not about Christian worship in general, but in context of worshiping with a praise band. You keep wanting to take the whole thing out of context. There was no need to define what worship is in regard to the open letter. The assumption with the open letter is that everyone knows what worship in general is, and so the context was worship in relation the the praise bands. No one said or even implied that his statement was about worship in general, and I know the author would not disagree that worship is done by the solitary Christian. BUT THAT WAS NOT THE CONTEXT OF THE LETTER! He did NOT lay down a "narrow definition" - he was making a statement about worship with praise bands. YOU are still beating the straw man to death!!!!

Defining what worship is, as a general statement, is not necessary to the context of this "open letter." That we as Christians understand what worship is, is stipulated as a given. And his statements are only in relation to worship with a praise band, and I have to agree with him 100%. You are refusing to stay within that parameter!

The man makes three points and three points only. You may not agree with the way he stated the points, but the points are valid nevertheless.

Point 1. Says if we can't hear ourselves over the raucous noise of the praise band, then all we have is entertainment and not worship. I have been is such a situation recently at a secular concert, and it was so loud and raucous that the lyrics were distorted, it hurt the ears, distracted us from the performance and gave us a bad attitude about what we had paid for. Now, take that and put it in a church setting and I can't see having any ability to focus on worship!

Point 2. Says if we can't sing along with the improvisation then we are not participating in the "worship" - and his point is that when there is no rhyme or reason for the way they sing, no one is able to be a part of it and it again becomes only entertainment. I have that problem at our current assembly whenever they decide to sing some stupid song from the radio, and the only people who have a clue about the lyrics are the young people - so the older population like me has no lyrics to refer to, and the music is nothing memorable or even easy to learn! So we spend our whole time wait for the entertainment to end. That is NOT worship for the majority of the congregation. I could go on and on with examples here, but I hope you get the point. Perhaps this is the only thing I can see as a possible point of disagreement, because you can always say that those who DO know the song can join in no matter how much improv has taken place.

Point 3. Says if the band is the center of attention, that isn't worship. I can't see how anyone can disagree with this. If it is all about the band, it is entertainment. One's focus must be God to be worship.

You and I can discuss defining worship until the cows come home, but that is nothing but a red herring to take away from the points the author made. And to say HE is defining worship by these statements is a straw man, because that is never intimated.

Michael Burdick said...

"Point 1. Says if we can't hear ourselves over the raucous noise of the praise band, then all we have is entertainment and not worship." SAYS WHO? I've been in plenty of such situations and I can assure you there was genuine worship taking place in a communial spirit.

"Point 2. Says if we can't sing along with the improvisation then we are not participating in the "worship" - and his point is that when there is no rhyme or reason for the way they sing, no one is able to be a part of it and it again becomes only entertainment." SAYS WHO? (as above)

"Point 3. Says if the band is the center of attention, that isn't worship." SAYS WHO??, again as above.

"Christian worship is a collective, communal, congregational practice. . ." Even if you add the contextual disclaimer (in the context of Praise and worship bands) he is still defining worship.

Do you want to argue about what the definition if IS is?

Glenn E. Chatfield said...


Why is it that you want to keep claiming the man was "defining worship" in a general sense when his open letter was in the context of Praise bands!?!!??! it is not a "contextual disclaimer," it is a bald fact as to the meaning!

I am really surprised that you think a raucous performance, as I described the concert I attended, could ever be considered worship by ANYONE!! And yet you say, "SAYS WHO?" Let's see, lyrics are distorted beyond recognition, the sound hurts to listen to and is distracting beyond description and yet you can't understand why anyone would dare say that ISN'T worship? Just because some individual or two in the audience might be able to have great spiritual strength and be able to worship in spite of such horrors, that doesn't make the performance itself anything close to worship!

I'm NOT surprised after all your defense of such nonsense that you would again ask "SAYS WHO" for point 2, and I even said this could have a possible point of disagreement, but I personally believe one would have to be justifying the performance in order to do so!

How can you ask, "SAYS WHO?" about point three?!?!?!?! THE BAND IS THE CENTER OF ATTENTION!!!! IF the audience is focused on the band, if the band is the center of attention, yes worship is taking place - WORSHIP OF THE BAND!

I think we've beat this dead horse enough. You want to justify the sort of garbage the letter addressed. You want to debate what worship in general is or isn't regardless of the context of the open letter, regardless of the intent of the author. The debate has become pointless.

Michael Burdick said...

I'm only saying at the ones I've attended, worship has occurred--often on Sunday Morning at our church..

Perhaps a compromise here would be to say: Certain types of Praise Band music reduce the ability of true worship to take place--and indeed, some go so far as to deny it altogether except in those cases where The Grace of The Holy Spirit over-rides even that in those individuals with whom He is dealing. Before contemporary Christian music came along, I would take secular songs and change the words in my head to turn them into worship. How do you explain this?

As to point three, it can (and does) happen--(and with you whether you realize it or not) when your focus is initially on the band because you need to have that focus to hear the song and apply the lyrics. This is a mental process. Once this is accomplished you then worship God by what you have gained from their performance (the spiritual focus)--even days and weeks later. You breath in the first mentally and exhale the second spiritually. I've listened to some CCM songs for weeks before the Holy Spirit moves on me with His illumination and then find these songs to be especially "worshipful".

Meanwhile, your refusal to define worship at all remains my initial point of contention on the entire issue---if you have a definition, give it. I'd like to know what it is quite apart from the Open Letter issue.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

The problem is that the author was making a general statement, and not condemning all praise bands. He was making a general statement about the problem of raucous, entertainment-oriented praise bands. You are going into details about bands which don't seem to be guilty of his charges.

It isn't a matter of "secular" music - lots of hymns originated as "secular" music with new words. Off the top of my head I can point to a Lutheran after-communion hymn which is sung to the old English folk song, "The Ash Grove." There is an old British folk song with a tune I like and I've put some words from Colossians to it. But that isn't the point of the open letter.

It isn't that I have refused to define worship - it just isn't germane to this discussion, and I'm trying to keep the focus just on the issue at hand.