Archive | Worship

The Five Great Mysteries of the Christian Faith

As I do the math, there are five great mysteries in theology:

1. Creation out of nothing (ex nihilo): How did God create being out of non-being? Being transcendent in relation to the universe (above all time, space, and matter), the reason for God’s being is necessary (hence why we often call him the “necessary being”), so his existence does not require a cause-and-effect answer. Yet where did he get the “stuff” to create all that there is? It could not have come from himself, as that would place him in our universe of time, space, and matter. Then we would just be looking for the really real God. The same is true if the “stuff” was outside himself. All that there is must have come from nothing as a rational and philosophical necessity. All other options are formally absurd. While creation out of nothing is not formally absurd, it is a great mystery or paradox.

2. Trinity: We believe in one God who eternally exists in three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This would only be a formal contradiction if we said we believed that God was three Gods and one God or if we said we believed he was three persons and one person. But to say that the Trinity is one God in three persons is not a formal contradiction, but a mystery. Continue Reading →

A Critique of Worship Music Criticism

(Lisa Robinson)

Over the past couple of weeks I have listened several times to the latest Newsboys work, God is Not Dead.  I confess, I really like this album.  It speaks of the supremacy of Christ and our receipt of His gift sourced in the love of the Father towards His creation.  It makes me think of God’s overarching redemptive plan told through all 66 books of the bible.  It reminds me of the promise of hope found in Christ and His eternal reign and rule.

However, I recently encountered some negative feedback about this work, and the Newsboys in general.   It was familiar criticism because the same words have left my lips in relation to CCM offerings – lacks substance, too simple, boring, not theologically sophisticated.   Basically, the gist of such criticism is that such music is not worthy of time or attention, with an indirect implication that God cannot be honored with such banal worship nor can the worshipper be enriched because of it.  This sentiment comes with the notion that only music packed with doctrinal significance and consistent theological articulation is pleasing to the Lord.

Admittedly, I have been rethinking how we consider Christian music, and “worship” music in general.  I have examining the fruit of such critiques.  For I too have responded to many songs with highly critical lens of doctrinal integrity (according to me of course) and comprehensive theology.   The motivation behind such criticism is the desire to see a song accurately reflect upon the character and work of the triune God and fill our souls with divine truth.  But now I am rethinking this type of criticism and its counter-productive characteristics.

Yes, I am coming to the understanding that nit-picking at music and especially music that encourages us to offer praise and thanksgiving to God and reflect on his greatness can actually discourage the praise we are commended to offer.  This motivates me to ask a few questions with regard to why we find it necessary to be over-critical of worship music, to the extent that it can appear to have no redeeming value. Continue Reading →

The Crazy Worship Lady

My family and I attend a church where ear plugs are available at the entrance to our worship center. I’ve never used the earplugs at church but I probably should to preserve my long-term hearing. I know many of you, due to the previous two sentences, have already condemned the church I attend. Let me help by giving you some more ammunition. In addition to the high decibels, each worship song is usually accompanied by a surprisingly sophisticated light show keeping in movement to the vocals, guitars and drums. Occasionally the fog machine is working so hard you can’t see all the way across the worship center.

You might think anything would be acceptable in such a rocking environment. Recently, however, something happened during the worship service which clearly distracted a majority of the people. I will refer to this woman as the “crazy worship lady.” This middle-aged woman only stood about 5’ 4” but her worship packed a disproportionate punch. For unhindered movement she spent the worship time in the middle of the aisle. When the lyrics mentioned “falling before God” she would actually fall on the ground. When a lyric spoke of God being “our everything” she would intensely look around at everyone else making motions that seemed to convey, “you, yeah you, you with me?” Most people didn’t make eye contact hoping she would leave them alone.

When the lyrics moved toward Jesus being victorious she seemed to literally go crazy. She moved her head every which way making her hair look like it was caught in a pulsating blender. She surprised me by having pretty impressive air-time as she jumped up and down during the “Jesus victorious” song. I was surprised, furthermore, to hear her muster enough volume to yell words not on the big screen which I could hear over the loud vocals, guitars and drums. It sounded like she was trying to tell someone something in the middle of all the falling, jumping and hair shaking.

After about ten minutes of this behavior a couple of the burly ushers moved into position close to the crazy worship lady (they obviously don’t call them ushers at a church like this but you know what I’m talking about). The ushers didn’t do anything except keep an eye on her and we were soon seated for the sermon. I was waiting for her to doing something crazy during the sermon and even had a plan in my head how I would help out if she needed to be tackled. She sat calmly during the sermon.

The sermon ended, we gathered our kids from the lower decibel children’s area, and headed back home. En route my wife asked me the question we both knew was coming, “What did you think about that lady?” I knew what she was talking about but just for fun I verified by asking, “You mean the crazy worship lady?” She laughed a little and it was clear we were talking about the same person.

My response was already formed. While watching the crazy worship lady I knew instantly what I thought about her actions. I was able to answer my wife immediately. Before I give you my response, however, I want you to know a little bit of my background.

Some Background

I started my “religious” life going to a Roman Catholic church. My earliest memories of “worship” come from the mass and from a surprisingly skilled nun playing the guitar and singing while we joined along as best we could. From there my family attended a very traditional small town Methodist church. We typically sang through a collection of about 25 hymns. I don’t remember ever singing the 3rd stanza. We always sang 1, 2 and 4. If you are reading this and about to write a hymn don’t spend too much time on the 3rd stanza, everyone will skip it for some unknown reason.
Continue Reading →