Friday, March 7, 2008

Man Centered Worship


MCW >> assumes that the primary purpose of Sunday morning church services is to reach out to unbelievers.

[In the New Testament, however, the reason the church gathers is for worship and equipping (Eph. 4:11-16; Acts 2:37-47). Evangelism is to primarily take place in the believer’s life context (“as you go”—Matt. 28:18-20) rather than being the main focus of the Sunday worship service.]

MCW >> assumes that unbelievers are “seeking,” yet Scripture says, “There is none who seeks for God” (Rom. 3:11; Ps. 14:1-3).

MCW >> assumes that the gospel and truth can be made inoffensive to unbelievers if presented correctly. Yet, Scripture teaches that the gospel and truth is, by its very nature, offensive to those who hate God (1 Cor.1:18, 21, 23, 25; 2:14; 1 Pet.2:7-8).

MCW >> assumes that the "style of music" (methods) a church uses is one of its most important keys to reaching the culture. Interestingly, the New Testament is silent regarding this “critical” element of church growth.

MCW >> assumes that large numbers always indicate “true success.” It says, “Never criticize any method that God is blessing” and interprets the “blessing” as “that which draws a crowd.”

A God-centered theology requires God-centered, God-focused worship and true piety. While human-centered theology will always lead to entertainment, (“what I like,”) with a focus on emotional exuberance, (“it feels good,”) subjective fanaticism, (deriving doctrine and practice from personal experience instead of from the Word of God,) and the never-ending roller-coaster of repeating the same “high” the following week, turning Jesus and church attendance into a narcotic.

God-centered worship glorifies God, the holy God, whose gracious salvation is a free, undeserved gift. Therefore, God-centered worship can be described as ‘objective’; with awe it glorifies the sovereign God, yet it is essentially thankful, with real, enduring and life-changing results. If indeed our services focus on Him, then our character will be formed after His and genuine community will be fostered. And the enemy will be foiled!

MCW makes the unbeliever (and carnal christians) our ‘customer’ and their sensibilities our ‘criteria’ for our worship of God. We should be trying to be relevant to God, not the world.
[the above comments thanks to Michael Horton]

[comments below thanks to John Hendryx]
Churches that practice MCW, aka "seeker sensitive churches" are perhaps representative of the most "culturally captive" in all of Christian history. Possibly even more so than the liberal churches that arose during the 19th century. It is really quite painful to consider that we willfully ignore history this way and thus appear to be doomed to repeat its mistakes. Those promoting the seeker sensitive movement encourage error by implying that the past (ie. the Reformation, the Great Awakening) was the time for doctrinal change, but that now we merely need to shift our focus to "praxis" (practical application) and "cultural relevance." Many of you may not know that this is exactly what theological liberalism has believed for well over a century.

This argument might not have been successfully made if the majority of evangelicals actually understood basic doctrine, but unfortunately we don't. A large percentage of evangelicals today reject or ignore many of the most important doctrinal contributions the church of the past has made to our understanding of Scripture. Theology is often shunned, and for some, to embrace anti-intellectualism is like a badge of spirituality. Having been near dead for the last 100 years, theology and not praxis is really the most critical need facing the contemporary church. The fluff coming out of the seeker movement is really only compounding the problem. No doubt our praxis would be right if our understanding of Scripture was right, since thinking God's thoughts after Him gives rise to true affection for God.

However, to the extent that we think wrong thoughts about God, to that same extent we commit idolatry. Christians must engage in theological studies to some extent because the Scriptures demand it, (1 Timothy 4:6, 2 Timothy 4:3, Titus 1:9, Titus 2:7) so those who teach that doctrine is unimportant are promoting something directly contrary to our Lord's desire. They are telling the church that truth doesn't matter. They're creating a confused and double-minded church. To disparage right doctrine in favor of right practice is to present a false dichotomy between practice and doctrine. I know many in the seeker movement would deny this, but frankly most evangelicals today know really very little about the Jesus they claim to serve.

The leaders of these churches are denying their flocks the very food they need for true nourishment. Those who love God, love His Word. I am all for promoting meekness, humility and infectious Christian living but any movement that plays down theology in favor of something less, is severely problematic and puts the cart before the horse. It can only result in creating a god in our own image to cater to our every felt need. Love without content means that the Jesus you say you love may not be the Jesus revealed in the Scripture, but rather a Jesus you invented. So because many of us worship in citadels of sloppy and weak doctrine, one of the greatest challenges we face, I believe, is the re-evangelization of the church, because the half-gospel that relies on methods rather preaching the Word in the power of the Spirit of God is the main culprit of our lukewarmness.

(1 Tim 4:16) Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.

1 comment:

ScottH said...

Yeah I remember R.C. saying that when he was a kid he recalled the big band music of that era. It never occurred to anyone to incorporate it in the church. Sam also mentioned that we baby boomers are the first generation to insist on having our music in the church. So Shawn,Ken,Bill,Dennis,and Ben feel blessed you aren't in the baby boomer generation!