The paradigm of worship

Discussion in '2003 Archive' started by ScottEmerson, Aug 16, 2003.

  1. ScottEmerson

    ScottEmerson
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    The more that I am on this board, the more that I am realizing that music isn't what is under attack here - although it seems that way on the surface. What we are really debating is the proper paradigm for worship. A paradigm is defined as "A set of assumptions, concepts, values, and practices that constitutes a way of viewing reality for the community that shares them, especially in an intellectual discipline." If we think about it, our ideas of worship are dictated by these assumptions, concepts, values, and practices.

    For example, there are many with the assumption that a church should not use music in worship, while others assume the opposite. Because there is no clear instruction either way, as the NT is silent concerning the topics of instruments. Some assume that we should take such silence by not playing instruments. Others say that our liberty in Christ and the OT precedent allows us to use such instruments. Both sides are merely assumptions that will probably never be proven.

    A value that differs between the paradigms concerns the role of culture within the music. One side, undergirded with the doctrine of separatism, says that culture should have no bearing on worship. The other side believes that culture is part of who we are. There are things that are culturally different about us in 2003 than how we were in 1950. We are culturally different than, say, people in Japan. It makes sense to this group that our worship would mirror that. There is an issue about whether culture in and of itself is sinful.

    Another paradigm in which the two sides differ is in the appropriateness of "experiencing" worship. For example, I know that when I sing praise and worship music, I often raise my hands as a form of surrendering to the God who bought me. This kind of worship is experienced not only through my hearing, but visually and in movement. We see that David experienced worship in a similar way. The other paradigm tends to eschew such experiences. They are more "modernistic" - that is, logical, straightforward, and linear. Sunday morning worship is often dominated by the sermon. In most cases, the sermon is governed by
    reason, logic, proof texting and linear sequence.

    Is one paradigm wrong or right? Probably not. However, those who follow the new paradigm do so not because it is the easiest, but because it is within that paradigm that we have been able to experience "true worship." Those who worship only with hymns or specific songs would also, I imagine, experience true worship.

    Here is my personal experience:

    The old paradigm of worship demands specific things from me; the other fills me.
    The old paradigm of worship is, to me, a legalistic effort; the other is a grace-filled gift.
    The old paradigm of worship tires my spirit; the new one brings me to rest.
    The old paradigm of worship makes me think, "I did it," while the new makes you aware that God's presence has filled your heart, energized your spirit, and filled you with the sense that, in spite of all your life issues, all is well.

    And that's why I'm squarely found in the new paradigm of worship. That is why I am a strong proponent of contemporary music. Worship should not be a chore, but should overflow because of the love that we have for Christ. I, along with many people on this board and around the world, have eschewed the old paradigm of the x number of hymns and a sermon and embraced the new one. That, above all the squabbles about specific types of music, is what I think the debate is really about.
     
  2. rlvaughn

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    Scott, you have brought this discussion to an interesting level of contrast, but I would suggest two things: (1) the two paradigms of worship are not sufficient to encompass all the viewpoints on the subject, and (2) there are some people who simply don't like the music. The "new" and "old" paradigms can be used as a starting point for discussion, but let's not pigeonhole all views into one or the other (not necessarily saying you are doing that, just that the discussion has the potential of going that way).

    I can easily relate that singing hymns a cappella and in unison (melody only, no harmony) from Lloyd's Hymn Book fills me, is a grace-filled gift, brings me peace and rest, and makes me aware that "all is well."
     
  3. ScottEmerson

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    What would you consider as an alternative paradigm to the two?

    Agreed. The paradigms that exists fall outside the range or music, although there are specific types of music that are generally associated with each one.
     
  4. rlvaughn

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    I'm not sure, since I don't think I've previously approached it from the way you present these paradigms. So I'll have to think about it. But, for example, when you say, "One side, undergirded with the doctrine of separatism, says that culture should have no bearing on worship; The other side believes that culture is part of who we are," it would seem you believe that everyone fits into one of these two sides and that determines where they come down on the music issue. I guess along with this it seems that in your paradigms those who believe that culture is part of who we are must of necessity also be those who believe it is appropriate to "experience" worship. Why not a cross - some who experience worship also believe that culture has no bearing, etc.. Perhaps I am misunderstanding you.
     
  5. DanielFive

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    Scott,

    This is something that I have been thinking about over the last few days and I was getting ready to start a thread on the same subject.

    Of course I hold an opposing view to you.

    Here's the problem as highlighted by an article I read this week:

    ...The Baby Boomers became a generation totally obsessed with self-gratification. As the Baby Boomers had babies of their own, those children (Generation X) wanted all the material benefits of Dad and Mom, and they wanted it immediately. The pattern is now repeating itself with the new generation - Generation Y.

    Therefore the materialism of the Baby Boomers has dramatically increased through two successive generations, and the resulting cultural landscape consists of three generations whose first priority is the edification, gratification and glorification of the one they see in the mirror.

    Thus the three generations who make up todays society can very well be collectively labeled as the ME Generations. What is in it for me? How can I feel better about ME? It is all about ME and no one else.

    When stating that the culture is all about ME, there are several aspects of pleasing ME that must be explored. A member of the ME generations can be reached by the following methods:

    - Solve his problems by meeting his needs (*felt needs)
    - Help him achieve his goals
    - Build his ego
    - Entertain and amuse him

    The first three aspects can be addressed by utilizing the tools of modern psychology or by emotional manipulation. The etertainment and amusement aspect is the easy one, for there are many talented individuals who are very anxious to exhibit their talents to any audience willing to observe.(*This is where the provision of 'his kind' of music comes in) To adapt the balance of these methods to the church services requires only a change in philosophy of true worship to fleshly gratification. Suddenly, God becomes more of a 'fairy godmother' than the God of Scripture. As a result, the church suddenly becomes relevant to the ME individual, but does such a church continue to be a true church?

    Evidently such questioning in today's new paradigm is totally irrelevant, for the outcome has been achieved - exponential church growth.


    Originally posted by Scott:
    Careful reading of this quote will highlight the problem. It appears that you evaluate worship by what it does for YOU (Notice how many times the words ME/MY occur). New paradigm worship is man-centered rather than God-centered, the goal of this worship is to make you as an individual, feel, or if you prefer, think, that you have experienced some kind of "filling" or presence.

    Its objective is to make you feel happy, ie. that despite lifes problems, all is well.

    The Word of God does not guarantee happiness to any individual whilst he remains in this life.

    Of course the preaching of the Gospel is also affected by this new paradigm.

    Back to the article:

    The Gospel of Jesus Christ as taught in Scripture is not complicated. It is simply the good news of the death, burial and ressurection of Jesus Christ to accomplish the redemption of mankind. In the book "This Little Church Went to Market" author Gary Gilley explains that the Gospel in the Word of God deals with :

    - The problem of sin
    - The need for righteousness
    - It is follishness to them that perish

    The Gospel also reveres the cross. For in the cross believers understand:

    - The cross slays men who must die to themselves and live for Christ
    - The cross condemns because of sin
    - The cross destroys confidence in the flesh

    However, under the new paradigm plan, the Gospel has been redefined:

    - Liberates from low self-esteem
    - Frees from emptiness and loneliness
    - It is a means of fulfillment and excitement
    - A way to recieve our hearts desires
    - A means of meeting our needs

    The effects of the cross have also been redefined The new paradigm view of the cross is as follows:

    - The cross entertains
    - The cross amuses
    - The cross encourages confidence in the flesh

    In summary the truth of the Gospel is becoming eroded by new paradigm games, and thus the impact on true Christianity is potentially catastrophic. All of this genuinely leads one to wonder whether the question "When I return, will I find faith on earth?" asked by Jesus was rhetorical or with the passing of time would have an obvious answer.

    *Added by me.

    Let me know what you think of these observations, I forget where I found this article but I will give you the source when I can.
     
  6. yod

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    Enda...you are not going to believe this...

    but we agree on something else now.


    I do think it is an overgeneralization to say the "old" paradigm is "this" and the "new" paradigm is "that" but you are correct in the
    general sense.

    The point I have tried to make is that the music isn't the problem. It's the people making the music....and maybe more importantly...the people buying the music.

    If the public wants songs that are shallow then the industry will give it to them.

    Often I think that the style is what the public wants. For instance, Michael Card might have some deep theological lyrics but his voice irritates me.

    Likewise, Michael Smith might be theologically shallow but he is a better pianist and vocalist than Michael Card.

    Is this bad? Perhaps it is in some cases....maybe even in most...but not necessarily all cases. It would depend on the listener. I don't need a preacher when I'm listening to music. I don't need "style" when I'm listening to a preacher.

    I can see why you would speak out against "shallow" music aimed at youths who haven't had a chance to be grounded. I feel the same way.

    But if we take that away they would probably choose a secular alternative instead of a more mature theological perspective who doesn't speak to their culture.

    Jesus came for the lost sheep of the house of Israel. He didn't go anywhere else and that is how a praise/worship group should focus on blessing the body. But Paul went to the gentiles right where they were. He didn't compromise the gospel by telling the Athenians that one of their idols (to the unknown god) was whom he wanted to proclaim. In other words, he used the medium they understood to communicate.

    I completely agree that there are those who are doing music for the wrong motives but not all by any stretch...

    Phillipians 1:18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice,
     
  7. ScottEmerson

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    The answer is quite simple. Worship is about God. As Rick Warren has said, "It's not about me, it's about God." Worship in both paradigms glorifies God. This isn't the issue. In a me-centered culture (which is what we're dealing with), however, worship transforms our focus to God.

    The thing is that God promised to meet our needs - all of our needs. What happens when we worship and grow in Christ is that God's goals become His goals. We do also understand that "while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."

    Note again why I choose the new paradigm: "The old paradigm of worship makes me think, "I did it," while the new makes you aware that God's presence has filled your heart, energized your spirit, and filled you with the sense that, in spite of all your life issues, all is well." In spite of me, God in control. Surely you understand that worship is reciprocal. As we give God honor and glory and praise, He inhabits the praise of His people. You will notice that I didn't say anything about being happy. God didn't promise happiness. He did promise us rest and comfort - that's what "all is well" means.

    You talk about the new paradigm refining the gospel to say:

    - Liberates from low self-esteem
    - Frees from emptiness and loneliness
    - It is a means of fulfillment and excitement
    - A way to recieve our hearts desires
    - A means of meeting our needs

    Interestingly enough, God does do all of these things when we accept Christ. We understand that we are created in the image of God and that we were worth dying for (point one). We experience the comfort of the Comforter (point two). Out lives will become fulfilled - we will have purpose in our life (point three). Our heart's desire will be changed by becoming a new creation (point four). And all of our needs, physical, emotional, and spiritual will be met (point five.)

    Surely you would believe that the cross also accomplished these five things as well, wouldn't you?

    And I would disagree with the last point. Christianity is struggling to survive in a world that has passed it by. The old paradism is increasingly becoming irrelevant to the younger generation. One merely has to examine the attendence patterns of students and young adults in churches that still employ the old paradigm. These churches are showing fewer and fewer attenders, and these churches are growing older and older.
     
  8. ScottEmerson

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    The problem I have with MWS is that he enjoyed being a mainstream artist until it became profitable to go the worship route. Newsboys and others also jumped in on the worship bandwagon. How many times can one remix certain praise and worship songs.

    Looking for theologically sharp lyrics with good vocals? Try Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman, Caedmon's Call, and David Crowder (although he initially sounds quite different, but it really grows on you!)
     
  9. Mike McK

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    I disagree about MWS.

    His early albums were very worship oriented. Two of the songs from those days, "Great is the Lord" and "Hosanna" have become standard in the church. In addition, anyone who's ever been to his shows knows that a he incorporates worship into it.

    I don't believe anyone can really say that he's jumping on the "worship bandwagon". If anything, this is a return to form for him.

    I think that, to a lesser degree, the same can be said for the Newsboys. Now, it's true that they've gone steadily downhill since the departure of John James but, during his days with the band, a good deal of their live show was very worship oriented.

    I would add Peter Mayer, Buddy Greene and Wes King to that list.
     
  10. ScottEmerson

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    The only show that I went to of his was the "Change Your World." The only real "Christian" song he sang was "Cross of Gold." I guess my thought it that he did worship at the beginning of his career so he could get an "in," then went mainstream, then back where the money was. But then again, I'm not a big fan of MWS, so I'm probably biased.
     
  11. Joshua Rhodes

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    Scott, Enda and others,

    You make very valid points of interest in your discussions of the paradigms. I'll have to do some more study and give some more thought before I can offer an opinion of my own. I see vaildity in both paradigms, but unfortunately, it seems like those in the "camps" tend not to want to bridge the gap or compromise at all. This makes blended worship, a term I use for lack of something better, very difficult. Two opposing factions have to find common ground, or there is never an understanding reached and often-times, much bloodshed on both sides. And this is a war that the un-churched, un-saved masses are watching from outside our churches with great interest.
     
  12. ScottEmerson

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    Here is a passage of interest to the discussion, revolving around how our worship really should, in a way, reach out to unbelievers:

    "Suppose some strangers are in your worship service, when you are praising God with your spirit. If they don't understand you, how will they know to say "Amen"? You may be worshipping God in a wonderful way, but no one else will be helped." I Corithians 14:16-17

    Bring sensitive to unbeleivers who visit your worship gatherings is a biblical command. To ignore this command is to be both disobedient and unloving.
     
  13. ScottEmerson

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    The similarities between the paradigms are many. Both groups earnestly want to worship in spirit and in truth. Both groups want to be faithful to the Scriptures, and believe that they are doing so. Both groups want to be comfortable in their worship - they want it to flow naturally.

    However, there are striking differences, and the differences are much, much more than music. As opposed as I have been in the past to having a "traditional" and "contemporary" service, the more I am understanding the rationale for such things. For our church to automatically move to this new paradigm would leave half of our church behind. Remaining in the old paradigm would leave half of our church wanting something different, something more relevant to their walk with God.

    We must remember that for both paradigms, their focus is upon God. What they do and how they go about worshipping within that pursuit of God is what is often at question.
     
  14. rlvaughn

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    Two comments - (1) the "strangers" here in I Corithians 14:16-17 would seem to be a different group from unbelievers (cf. vs. 23,24). (2) Even if we take this to mean unbelievers, it is not an unconditional principle that we be "sensitive" to whatever they want, like or desire. It would be conditional based on being aware of what they need (what is beneficial to them).
     
  15. DanielFive

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    Scott said:
    I'm nearly speechless, and that's a first. ;)

    Not that anyone is fooled by this post, but Scott I'm sure you are aware that this chapter refers to speaking in tongues (foreign languages) and these two verses refer to unlearned CHRISTIANS (ie. Those Christians who do not understand what is being said).

    Nowhere is it even remotely suggested that worship should be watered down so that it can be understood by unbelievers. Shame on you for suggesting that those who obey the command to worship in spirit and in truth are unloving and disobedient.

    You're losing credibility fast.
     
  16. DanielFive

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    Scott said:
    Two Points from this earlier remark.

    Firstly, why does the old paradigm of worship make you think "I did it"? What do you mean?

    Secondly, when you talk in the third person it doesn't sound so bad. However what you are actually saying is:

    '...while the new makes ME aware that Gods presence has filled MY heart, energised MY spirit and filled ME with the sense that in spite of all My life issues all is well'

    What exactly does GOD get out of this new paradigm of worship?

    You rightly agree that we are dealing with a ME generation when we are dealing with the unsaved. The problem seems to be that some people who are saved are still ME centred people and are unwilling to participate in God centred worship.

    Its merely an excuse to suggest that you favour this new style of worship because that's what non-believers will understand.
     
  17. JonathanDT

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    And I think this is where you can really pin the whole argument. I believe that God gets just as much praise, glory, and honor from the P&W as he does from the hymns. The only difference is what the people get out of it. If I thought differently about that I would have no choice but to agree with you. If we have two things that honor God, use the one that honors him BEST. But if those two things honor God equally, then do what encourages and exhorts the PEOPLE the best. Do you disagree?
     
  18. yod

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    I'm an advocate for a "new song" in worship while nodding respectfully at those who have gone before...

    But I tend to agree with Enda here.

    I think that so many have jumped on the P&W bandwagon who are marginally anointed as leaders and this has resulted in far too many "ME" songs.

    It's not that a "me" song is necessarily bad...but it's WAY out of balance these days.

    I challenge all the worship leaders of this board to do no more than one song in a set that has the words "me" or "I" in it.

    You will be surprised when you start counting this in your modern worship songlists....


    :eek:
     
  19. ScottEmerson

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    The entirety of I Corinthians 14 is concerned with worship. Nowhere does Paul suggest that the unleare "Christians" so your point falls. (Check out verse 24, where the word "idiotes" appears again!) The result (as we see in verse 25) is that the unlearned unbeliever will fall on his face and worship God.

    I never said that those who obey the command to worship in spirit and in truth are disobedient. What I did say is that those who worship in spirit and in truth must be sensitive to non-believers.
     
  20. ScottEmerson

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    If I sing the right way and if I am able to sing in "high language," then I've worshipped. If for whatever reason, I don't want to sing hymns, then it's my own fault that I haven't worshipped. In the new paradigm, I'm liberated from trying to sing in the right language - I can sing a song from my heart, in whatever words - ancient or modern, and I know that God understands them.

    No, I meant the other one. God is at the core of the modern paradigm of worship. Not me.

    He inhabits the praise of His people. He receives pleasure from our worship. And after all of this, we are faithful to His command for us to worship Him. Really, the same thing that He gets from the old paradigm.

    As I said in the previous post, Paul was clear about our worship. Unbelievers should be able to come in and understand. I've seen too many students come into corporate worship and leave wondering what in the world we were singing about. I've never seen a student come to our student worship and wonder what we were singing about. The difference? The different paradigm.
     

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