Sunday, 24 January 2010

The Impurity of Worship

I am disappointed that your reply to my genuine concerns was so dismissive, but then again, 'why change the habit of a lifetime,' as they say.

It is not "the praise in XXX" that disturbs me; XXX can do whatever it likes under your leadership! Its when that 'praise' pretends to be "the worship of Almighty God," Whose nature is revealed in the Decalogue ... that causes me great concern.

On this morning's sermon, I think what you preached has highlighted in a way that I probably could not do, what I was trying to explain, and which I believe to be biblically valid. But you are actually breaking your own counsel and the teaching of the second commandment which you so ably expounded.

However, your application left a lot to be desired. When you stated that this commandment warns us against elevating imagination above revelation, I could not have agreed more. But can it not be argued that the worship practice in your church could only be as it is precisely because you have elevated your imagination above revelation!

Further, if in your reply where you are affirming that you "do not anticipate any radical change in the praise in the forseeable future," and, given the context of my email (and correct me if I am wrong), but what I think you are saying is this:
* That XXX, under your ministry, will continue to run its evening service an 'evangelical night
* The 'noise' that passed for worship and which was deafening, will continue;
* The thumping of drums which was almost unbearable, will also continue, and be disruptive;
* That the singing about the Cross to boogy-woogy, rock, rave-type accompaniment, and which
was grossly offensive, will be a regular part of the 'worship of God in XXX;
* That "the ways of the world" which are used to 'worship' the holy God, will still be used;

What this suggests to me is that you will continue to offer 'strange fire' to the Lord, while seeking His blessing upon what you do. Do you honestly think that this pleases Him?

Let me ask you these questions? Show me from Scripture how this kind of 'worship' can be argued for? Can you provide me with the evidence from the history of the church in her best times, that this is what God has blessed? Can or will you show me from the Directory of Public Worship that your church claims to accept, how this kind of 'worship,' promoted AND DEFENDED in XXX, is agreeable to what you, and your denomination, have accepted?

Rev. X, I am not against contemporary hymns being used in the worship of God, so long as they are theologically sound, and not of the sloppy, sentimental irritatingly repetitive variety, of which there is plenty. There are excellent modern hymns that are evocative and which teach biblical truth.

But remember, church worship is not supposed to be dictated to by the worldly youth culture of the day, as appears to be the case in your church. Its mandate comes from a much higher Source - the Holy Scriptures.

Nor am I advocating the singing of psalms exclusively; it is a concern that a so-called 'reformed' church, such as PCI claims to be, rarely sings the Psalms, and when it does, it appears to be a kind of 'tokenism' to those who revere the Word of God in worship. But the Psalms are Scripture, yet you seem to object to sing these Scripture songs, except in the rarest of occasions.

Rev. X, it grieves me to have to write this to you, as a dear brother minister and a brother in Christ. But when my Saviour's Name and Honour are being attacked 'in the house of His friends,' I cannot stand back and say nothing. I feel compelled to speak about this, and to use whatever social networking facilities I can to get my message across, because of your failure to listen to them. As in educational theory, you know when a learner has learned something when they start doing it! When listening leads to doing, I will then that you have listened.

I fear that you are again setting an example to our current superficial generation of youths that will not serve the cause of Christ very well in the days to come, let alone today. You are teaching them that they can worship God anyway they choose, and regardless of the biblical principles that they so arrogantly flout! Soon we will see the flashing strobe lighting in our services, and the 'smoke' effect to raise anticipation and get 'decisions.' This is not far away in many evangelical and reformed congregations. Even the pulpit will be removed and replaced by a stage, to enable performances to take place, and drama, and other show-biz antics, etc!

But where is all this going to stop? Is there anyone today who cares enough for the honour of Christ and the good of His church and His people of all ages? Please tell me there are such people of principle in the churches today! Perhaps there are not any! Perhaps the modernising movement within PCI is driving its best ministers out of the denomination because they fear the consequences of the church offering 'strange fire' to the LORD.

Rev. X, please do not dismiss my concerns. Perhaps these matters need careful consideration by the elders in session. The last thing I want to do is to cause you any unnecessary difficulty in your congregation. You referred today, and I paraphrase, to people with some kind of spiritual discernment. Some of your members can discern what is happening in XXX under your ministry, and are not impressed. Perhaps they have not spoken to you about their concerns, maybe out of respect or fear or because you won't listen; but those concerns are there.

These are real spiritual concerns. May I ask you? Who exactly is this god you are worshipping? Members may not articulate this in this way, but that is what they are saying. If He is the living and true God, then He has set out how He wants to be worshipped by His people; and He's done that in Scriptures.

As before, I do not expect a detailed response from you, for whatever reasons. Yet I would very much like you to treat me with respect and accord me the courtesy of a considered reply.