Thursday, October 4, 2012

What Does This Confess?

In the Fall 2012 edition of Issues, Etc. Journal, Todd Wilken has written an essay, "Behind the Music: The REAL Worship War," on the true reason behind the battles concerning worship music and practice.  He writes from a Lutheran perspective comparing the historic liturgy to contemporary innovations being foisted on LCMS congregations, so a direct application may not be possible, but the points raised are useful to the church catholic.
When staring up the barrel of worship war artillery, those countless and relentless changes and innovations to Sunday morning worship, just ask a simple question: What does this confess?

The worship war is about doctrine.  Doctrine is teaching.  So, what does the pastor’s latest new idea for worship teach?  What does it confess?  What is the new idea’s, the new practice’s Doctrine?  What will we be teaching and confessing if we do this?

Before the lead singer steps into the spotlight, before the guitar sounds its first power-chord, the question must be asked.  What does this confess?  Before the house lights dim or the video splash screen rolls, ask: What does this teach?  Before we lift our eyes to the big screens or our voices in another Hillsong or Casting Crowns chorus, ask: What are we teaching and confessing with this? (10)
I and others have raised the same basic questions concerning the use of "Praise & Worship" music during morning worship: what doctrines do they teach?  This tends to be the unasked question when these songs are selected for use.  Ancillary to that is a less-considered question: what does the presentation or implementation of this music teach?  New style of music is not really the issue, but the standard accompaniment of CCM music is the downplay of law, gospel, doctrine, etc. and has over time caused Christians to think "the worship war is about music because, after 50 years of the worship war, music is all that is left."

Without understanding that the real issue is doctrine, we reduce the argument to the experience perceived.
Did it feel right?  Did it make me feel better?  Did I like it?  Did it move me?  When your criteria for deciding whether the worship was good is the same used to decide whether your U2 concert tickets were worth the $250 you paid for them, something is wrong. (14-15)
Every person engaged in music ministry, every elder in the local assembly needs to evaluate the message of what is sung as a regular part of the worship time or specially performed for specific occasions and ask the question Todd Wilken asks: "What does this confess?"

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