Monday, June 30, 2008

Tis Been Along Time - Uncivilized Worship

Well well, I am posting again, sorry for the two month absence I know you were heart broken in being unable to read my thoughts for that long. *cough/laugh* Anyways, most people would expect me to finish the Mormonism series (which I should hope to do this week), or break out a new beer review Monday (later today). No my first post back is something far more imminent in my life at the moment. That is the concept of worship.

When preparing for an up coming event at my home church the very concept of worship was challenged causing me to meditate deeply on the subject. Unfortunately "worship" has been reduced to the concept of three or four songs on a Sunday morning rather than a lifestyle praising God. However the argument continues over style of music therefore when I refer to worship thus that will be what I am referring to.

Costly Grace - Makoto FujimuraFirst we must destroy the disillusion that any music performed by Christians is "Christian" Music, as this is simply not the case, not to mention bad theology, Christian is not an adjective but a noun. This would be the equivalent of saying that Makoto Fujimura is a Christian Artist, he is not. He is an artist who happens to also be a Christian. In the same way just because the members of Anberlin and As I Lay Dying are Christians, that does not make their music innately laced with the Gospel, nor does it make their songs "worship" material. At the same time just because an artist like Phillips, Craig, & Dean music is threaded with such as "grace" and "worship" does not make it fit as praise for our king either.

I will celebrate, sing unto the Lord,
Sing to the Lord a new song.
I will celebrate, sing unto the Lord,
Sing to the Lord a new song.
With my heart rejoicing within,
with my mind focused on Him.
with my hands raised to the heavens,
all I am worshiping Him.
I will, praise You,
I will sing to You, a new song.
I will, praise You,Psalm 23
I will sing to You, a new song.
my life was in the dark
disgusted with the light
when I heard my sin
it made me want to fight
I hated those who loved him
yet they loved me back
I was in a corner
I ran but could not hide

crucified with Christ

dying to myself
giving up control
killing the old man
rejuvenate my soul

crucified with Christ

not my life
Christ lives in me
the life I live
I live for his glory

Now out of those two songs, which lyrically is better theologically, the first or the second? They both speak of doing things, they both use "churchy" words, the first is about something I am going to do, thus it is in essence praise of self, the second however looks at the sinfulness of sin in men and what Christ has done. It is pretty much ripped from Romans 6-8 and Galatians 2. However while the first has horrible theological implications it will very often be played in church building across America and though the second is about the sinfulness of men and the holiness of God one would be hard pressed to find it played not because the laity is theologically weak in the west, though it is, but because of its style of music.

The first can only be classified as a 70's pop song where as the second was one of the songs that started the Hardcore movement in music. Thus the conclusion that 70's pop songs are acceptable for worship no matter theological implications of the song, while heavier and more theologically sound songs are rejected due to style. Now I do agree with Alister Begg and others that for corporate praise we must be able to both hear the word and, though often out of tune, sing along with the worship team. Thus while I may be in the "moderate left" with my opinion on worship. Thus while I do not feel "screemo" is acceptable for corporate worship in certain settings, I see no problem with the genre in general, nor am I against them playing in other setting at the church building.

That being said I do not think all music of the harder genres preformed by Christians should be played in churches. This again goes back to the theology. I could see Redemption by August Burns Red being played in a certain church worship setting however I could not see Bury Us All by As I Lay Dying, both bands are comprised of members who are Christian.

itunesThis spreads across all genres of music unfortunately the hardcore scene seem to be growing less than hardcore and more civilized speaking less about God and His grace as they did when they burst onto the scene in the late 1980's and early 1990's (Unashamed/ The Crucified). This is unfortunate as bads such as Underoath, Norma Jean, and As I Lay Dying are in the same vain as Killswitch Engage, Hawthorn Heights, and Atreyu, with people utterly unaware that the first three bands are comprised of Christian members.

Now I am not simply trying to knock Christians who play Hardcore because I do see a good message in their music, but it is the same good message I saw in Linkin Park (prior to their Jay-Z move). It is not intrinsically law or gospel it is at best spirituality and other softer bands are often slipping into this spirituality, higher being helped me but I'd better not mention that it was Jesus or people might not like me trend.

VynilGo ahead and say it, "Matt if we are overtly Christian they will stop coming to our concerts and we wont be able to reach them." If that is true then clearly Jesus and His Gospel were not the reasons for them coming to the shows anyways. We are to be Light and Salt (Matthew 5:13), this is not just a call for pastors or spiritual leaders but all men everywhere who take for themselves the name of Christ. If only the Christians within the Hardcore movement would go the way rappers who happen to be Christian have, that is make their music about Christ. In a genre seems to speak only to sensuality and drugs these men stand up for truth and are a light in this dying world. Rappers such as KJ-52, The Voice, and Flame, who have a sound and style that is in the opinion of some better than mainstream rap yet they are lyrically all about Christ and Him Crucified (1 Corinthians 1:18). If you are trying to say that your music is to be used as an outreach then why would you speak of anything other than our great God and Savior? (Though that may be reached through expressing the falleness of the world.)

I am thankful for bands such as August Burns Red, and The Devil Wears Prada, though not all of their songs are about Jesus they will at least sing about Him for a substantial portion of their music. Unfortunately bands like these are few and far between even in the realm of those started and comprised of Christians. I pray that others in this genre would follow their example of Glorifying Christ in their music.
In Acts 2 we see the disciples of Christ proclaiming Him, His death and resurrection, in a most uncivilized manner, so uncivilized that they were mistaken as being drunk because they just couldn't shut up about Jesus. We ought to be the same way, especially in lyrical music, brought as corporate worship to Jesus. Utterly uncivilized in that everything is politically incorrect proclaiming the Truth about Jesus that He alone saves.

"I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes,to the Jew first and also to the Greek." - Romans 1:16

UPDATE: I think I sent a mixed message. So I will comment here and do so shortly. I am not bashing Tim Lambesis or any other Christian in the industry who writes about their personal struggles, in fact I listen to many of them. However the point of the post was that a song about a personal struggle that does constitute a song for corporate worship, and how I don't understand why one would not want to write about their great God and Savior. The problem with these songs is that far to often the One who gets the artist through the struggle is never mentioned. Hence the comparison to rappers, though they rap about their struggles they never forget to mention Jesus was the One who brought them through. I just wish that it was the same way with all Christians. Now some will compare what they are doing to that of Bach but if you look at what Bach actually wrote you could see that it is utterly about Christ. Again I believe this concept springs from a lack of proper theology being taught to the church today. Anyways I am not saying that these musicians are not Christians just that most music in this genre made by them cannot be used for corporate worship. Furthermore this is not a rant against Hardcore in general, I like the music and if you do also check out my friend Joe's Band, Perpetual Burn they are more in the "metal" vain than the "screamo" but they are good nevertheless. Warning Explicit Lyrics.

The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. - The Apostle Paul