Archive for July, 2010

This is not a sports blog…

…but this was too good to pass up. In the latest issue of National Review, Richard Brookhiser refers to a World Cup soccer game as “ninety minutes of something almost but never happening.”

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An All-Round Ministry

Teachers should be what they wish their students to be;  and what manner of men should ministers be?  They should thunder in preaching, and lighten in conversation; they should be flaming in prayer, shining in life, and burning in spirit.  If they be not so, what can they effect?

By Charles Spurgeon

Knocking down the house of cards

C. S. Lewis has reminded me lately of a few truths as only the great Oxford don could do. About the only thing I have in common with Lewis is that we have watched first-hand as our wives suffer from cancer. After his wife Joy died from her struggle, Lewis penned a series of journals that would become his book A Grief Observed. I was able to read it a few mornings ago and found not a few poignant passages. In one entry, Lewis interacts with the common refrain that we often hear when suffering, “God has sent it to try us.” I couldn’t tell you how many people have lovingly reminded me of this in recent days. While there is ample biblical warrant for this (e.g., 1 Cor 10:1-13) it’s not the whole story. Lewis writes:

God has not been trying an experiment on my faith or love in order to find out their quality. He knew it already. It was I who didn’t. In this trial He makes us occupy the dock, the witness box, and the bench all at once. He always knew that my temple was a house of cards. His only way of making me realize the fact was to knock it down.

Authorial intent and the art of slow reading

It’s been interesting to watch how some in certain reformed circles are eschewing authorial intent. I mean “interesting” in the same way a train wreck is interesting. Nevertheless I found a comment buried in this article which grabbed my attention. To my knowledge the scholar makes no claim to Christianity but he gets it right in the interpretive department.

But Lancelot R Fletcher, the first present-day author to popularise the term “slow reading”, disagrees. He argues that slow reading is not so much about unleashing the reader’s creativity, as uncovering the author’s. “My intention was to counter postmodernism, to encourage the discovery of authorial content,” the American expat explains from his holiday in the Caucasus mountains in eastern Europe. “I told my students to believe that the text was written by God – if you can’t understand something written in the text, it’s your fault, not the author’s.”

Why Johnny Can’t Sing Hymns

I recently finished T. David’s Gordon’s new book Why Johnny Can’t Sing Hymns: How Pop Culture Rewrote the Hymnal.  For the mature Christian reader, pastor, or minister of music I would highly recommend this resource even though their is much in the book I do not particularly agree with.  With that  said the book offers some fresh insights on an important topic.   Gordon’s thoughtful quotes sprinkled throughout the book make this resource a worthy investment of both time and money. 

Here are a few of the many thought-provoking quotes found in this book: 

“In such communions, worship had previously been understood as a meeting between God and His visible people.  Worship was a dialogue, if you will: God speaking through Word and sacrament, and His people responding in prayer, praise, and confession.  The decisions that governed such worship revolved around this dialogical conception of worship as a meeting between God and His people.”

In addressing the ‘seeker-friendly meetings’ issue the author writes.

“The failure to make such a distinction creates an unintended irony: that those who are genuinely seeking for God are often repulsed by the so-called seeker-friendly services, which seem to be more about fun than answering life’s most serious question.”

“Young people who attend church see a group of fifty-year-olds playing their guitars in front of the church in order to reach the young will perhaps politely appreciate the gesture, but they frankly regard the music as being fairly lame.”

“Biblically, the goal of youth is to leave it as rapidly as possible.  The goal of the young, biblically, is to be mature…1 Cor 13:11.”   “Extended adolescence is part of what our youth need to be delivered from.”

“The most common argument for employing contemporary worship music is the strategic argument: to reach a culture captivated by pop music, the church must employ such music.  But this argument, as we have just seen, is far from cogent.”

“When the church approaches an individual as a consumer to be pleased, rather than as a recalcitrant sinner to be rescued, the church is no longer doing what it is called to do.”

“The question of what constitutes a suitable or appropriate prayer or song for Christian worship is as old as the apostolic church. Paul addressed the Corinthians on the matter, for instance (1 Cor 14:14-17).”

“We don’t disagree with the past; we just don’t pay attention to it.”

“Johnny hasn’t been persuaded that hymn-singing is wrong; Johnny simply cannot relate to anything that doesn’t sound contemporary.  He cannot shed his cultural skin, the skin of contemporaneity, of triviality, of paedocentrism.  He thinks he prefers contemporary worship music forms to other forms, but in reality he prefers contemporaneity as a trout prefers water; it is the only environment he knows.”

“Johnny is monogenerational outside the church; so he is monogenerational inside the church.”

The most helpful worship resource I have come across are lectures from the Shepherd’s Conference presented by Professor Andrew Snider.  I have also greatly benefited from Paul Jones’ book Singing and Making Music as well as Bob Kauflin’s Worship Matters.  I have yet to read Brian Chapell’s Christ-Centered Worship or Timothy M. Pierce’s Enthroned On Our Praise: An O.T. Theology of Worship.

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