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What is influencing fundamentalist worship today?

splash-ripplesAs I consider the landscape of fundamentalism today,1 some characteristics of its worship encourage me, while others concern me. The primary influences on modern fundamentalist worship reveal the reasons for this mixed assessment.
Three Influences Shaping Worship Today
In my estimation, three sources have influenced modern fundamentalist worship most:
1.John Piper
2.Wayne Grudem
3.Sovereign Grace Ministries
John Piper
The influence of John Piper’s writing and sermons on fundamentalism is unquestionable. Michael Riley makes this case in “On the Ministry of John Piper,” written for the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship in 2005.2 Riley writes,
Other than John MacArthur, it is unlikely that any modern evangelical author has been more influential and respected in Fundamentalist circles than John Piper.
While Piper has not written a book on worship, his theology of worship is riddled throughout his books and sermons, and his particular theological emphases have direct application to worship theology. For instance, Piper is insistent on the God-centeredness of God, and by implication, the God-centeredness of worship.3 Piper’s consistent exegetical preaching and strong doctrinal center have also influenced fundamentalism, and in particular the centrality of these in the worship of God.
Wayne Grudem
Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology4 has been a significant source of theological influence on fundamentalists. This assertion is somewhat more difficult to prove than Piper’s influence. Basically, Grudem’s ST has become very attractive to fundamentalists who are becoming more Calvinistic soteriologically or even fully Reformed. Since Grudem is Reformed, and since his ST is probably one of the most readable on the market today, Grudem’s ST is quite popular among especially the younger generation of fundamentalists who are embracing Calvinism or fully Reformed theology.
Grudem’s influence on worship theology is evidenced by the fact that his ST seems to be unique in its focus on worship and extended discussion of the theology of worship. Grudem has an entire chapter on worship (unique among ST’s), each chapter ends with a hymn, and Grudem is deliberate about relating theology to worship throughout the work. It is certainly possible that someone could benefit from some of the theology of Grudem’s ST without being influenced by his theology of worship, but that is highly unlikely since the relationship of theology and worship permeates the work.
Sovereign Grace Ministries
A more recent influence upon modern fundamentalist worship is Sovereign Grace Ministries.5 This influences comes primarily through two sources: Bob Kauflin and the music published by SGM.
1. Bob Kauflin
Bob Kauflin is Director of Worship Development for SGM. He teaches his theology and practice through his blog,6 his book Worship Matters: Leading Others to Encounter the Greatness of God,7 and through various conferences and teaching venues. Kauflin and his writings are often praised, cited, and recommended by fundamentalists, and so it is no far stretch to assume that he has a significant influence on the worship of fundamentalists. Kauflin encourages gospel-centered worship and theologically-rich hymns, both good emphases in my opinion.
2. Sovereign Grace Music
SGM produces quite a bit of music, all performed in a pop/rock style, and much targeted to be sung by congregations. They also promote the modern hymns of Stuart Townend, Keith Getty, and others. Their songs are known to be theologically-rich and gospel-centered, and this has been attractive for many fundamentalists who desire their worship services to be God-centered and doctrine-filled. Most fundamentalists “clean up” the songs, using only the text/tune combinations alone, while some are perhaps using the pop styles and/or promoting the SGM recordings themselves.
These songs were probably made most popular among fundamentalist first through the recordings of the Steve Pettit Evangelistic Team.8
This influence on fundamentalist worship is clearly evident since most of the fundamentalist colleges sing and record these songs, and many fundamentalist churches readily sing them as well.
Unifying Characteristics of These Influences
As I observe the influence of these three sources upon the worship of modern fundamentalism, I notice two primary unifying characteristics of these sources that would have influence upon worship theology:
1.A God-centered view of worship
2.A continuationist understanding of the Holy Spirit’s work
A God-centered view of worship
In contrast to an understanding of worship that centers on people in evangelism or discipleship, John Piper, Wayne Grudem, and Sovereign Grace Ministries all strongly stress a God-centeredness that should permeate life and especially worship. This is clearly evidenced in their theology, their emphases, their biblical exposition, their song texts, and their writings. It has certainly influenced their theology of worship, and no doubt has impacted the worship theology and practice of fundamentalists as well. I definitely think that this influence has been quite good. Many fundamentalist churches have focussed their worship services more on God, His Word, and response of the affections toward Him than perhaps in the past. Certainly these influences have come from other sources as well,9 but I think it is safe to say that the three sources above are probably the most significant and universal in this regard.
This influence, in my opinion, is wonderful. For too long many fundamentalist churches have been plagued by man-centered church theology that has bleed into their church services. For many churches, their “worship” has been little more than anthropocentric revivalist meetings or evangelistic meetings. Whatever influence Piper, Gruden, and SGM have had to direct fundamentalist churches toward God-centered theology and worship is something for which I am very grateful.
A continuationist understanding of the Holy Spirit’s work
What is also interesting and important to note is that all three of these sources of influence have a continuationist understanding of the work of the Holy Spirit. Both Sovereign Grace Ministries and Wayne Grudem clearly identify themselves with Third Wave Pentacostalism, and John Piper does by implication in many of his writings. All three understand the sign gifts to be in operation today, and while all three understand baptism of the Spirit as happening simultaneously with conversion, they see Spirit filling as an experiential empowering that often evidences itself in external, physical phenomena.
This continuationism clearly impacts their theology and practice of worship as well. One’s view of the Holy Spirit has direct impact on how he views worship, and would certainly impact his methodology of worship.
For example, Wayne Grudem articulates a theology of worship that assumes a kind of “special, experiential presence” of God in worship.10 Kauflin sees the job of a worship leader as one of “motivation” toward a certain worship experience11 and physical expressiveness in worship as an essential component.12 Piper has made very helpful contributions in terms of stressing the importance of the affections in worship, but he also clearly connects the affections to physical feelings.13 Each of these are examples of how continuationism has influenced their theology and practice of worship, in my opinion.
Yet even if someone disagrees that these particular citations evidence an influence of continuationism, it would still be a bit naïve to assume that their theology of the Holy Spirit has had no impact on their theology and practice of worship.
This particular influence, in my estimation, is problematic, and should be for fundamentalist cessationists.
Excursus 1: Reformed Theology
Immediately apparent from my list above is the absence of Reformed Theology as a unifying characteristic with impact on worship. To be sure, Reformed Theology is a unifying characteristic of these men. However, it is not a unifying characteristic of their influence upon fundamentalist worship because there is no direct impact of Reformed Theology on worship theology and practice.
Instead, I think the function of Reformed Theology in this whole discussion is that the Reformed Theology of these men (or at least their Calvinism) is what has attracted some fundamentalists to their writings. The Calvinism brought them in, and then they were further influenced by other convictions of these men, including their God-centeredness (a good thing, in my opinion) and their continuationism (a not-so-good thing, in my opinion).
Some fundamentalist leaders, observing the popularity of these authors, their music, and their theology, have assumed that it is the Calvinism of these men that has lead many fundamentalists to change their worship theology. However, I must repeat, there is no direct impact of Reformed Theology itself on worship theology or practice. Historically there have been both conservative and progressive Calvinists, Arminians, Dispensationalists, and Covenant Theologians, and there is nothing inherent in these theological convictions that leads to a particular worship philosophy.
In other words, in my opinion, it is right for these fundamentalists leaders to trace the change of worship theology (good or bad) in many fundamental churches back to Piper, Grudem, and Sovereign Grace, but it is not because of their Calvinism.
Excursus 2: Fundamentalists and Worship
What is also apparent from the discussion thus far is an absence of fundamentalists as influences on fundamentalist worship today. It is not as if I am ignoring fundamentalists, or even that those fundamentalists who are changing their worship theology and practice are ignoring fundamentalists. The truth is that there really has been very little theology of worship written and taught by fundamentalists. It’s almost as if worship has been considered an “extra-curricular activity” in the minds of most fundamentalists. In other words, to get a thorough theology of worship, the only place to go has been these conservative evangelical writers whose God-centeredness and continuationism flavor their theology.
I should note a few exceptions here, however. Michael P. V. Barrett’s book, The Beauty of Holiness: A Guide to Biblical Worship14 is an excellent treatment of the subject. Gary Reimers has also done some thoughtful teaching on the subject,15 and Bob Jones Seminary will be publishing his book on the subject some time this year, I believe. These sources haven’t received the consideration they deserve, however.
All this to say that I do believe there needs to be more writing on worship theology from a separatist, cessationist perspective.
Conclusion
Much good can be said about the influence of these three sources on the worship of evangelical/fundamental church worship. There is definitely a more theological-mindedness in worship today, many churches are moving away from a “seeker” mentality, and a vertical emphasis is returning. These good trends can be attributed in large part to the contributions of these men. We can praise these men for their God-centeredness and commitment to sound, exegetical theology. We can certainly benefit from this kind of teaching, and I do believe that it has had a good impact on fundamentalist worship today in some respects.
But what is clearly apparent to me is that the biggest influences in worship today are continuationists. I believe that a lot more careful consideration needs to be given to how the continuationism of these men has also influenced worship theology and practice. We would be naïve to assume that it has no impact. It is beyond the scope of this essay to argue against continuationism. I am simply emphasizing that cessationists need to at least recognize this potential influence on their theology and practice of worship.
Finally, I also believe that there is a great need for fundamentalists who are both Calvinistic and cessationists to think more and write more on worship theology and practice.16 It is dangerous, in my opinion, that practically the only Calvinists writing on worship are also continuationists. If the only place Calvinists can go for a theology of worship is to continuationists, it is no wonder that there is a strong connection between Calvinism and progressive worship today.

What I am stressing is for cessationists to be aware of the influence of the continuationism of these men and ministries upon the worship of evangelicalism and fundamentalism

splash-ripples

As I consider the landscape of fundamentalism today,1 some characteristics of its worship encourage me, while others concern me. The primary influences on modern fundamentalist worship reveal the reasons for this mixed assessment.

Three Influences Shaping Worship Today

In my estimation, three sources have influenced modern fundamentalist worship most:

  1. John Piper
  2. Wayne Grudem
  3. Sovereign Grace Ministries

John Piper

The influence of John Piper’s writing and sermons on fundamentalism is unquestionable. Michael Riley makes this case in “On the Ministry of John Piper,” written for the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship in 2005. Riley writes,

Other than John MacArthur, it is unlikely that any modern evangelical author has been more influential and respected in Fundamentalist circles than John Piper.

While Piper has not written a book on worship, his theology of worship is riddled throughout his books and sermons, and his particular theological emphases have direct application to worship theology. For instance, Piper is insistent on the God-centeredness of God, and by implication, the God-centeredness of worship.2 Piper’s consistent exegetical preaching and strong doctrinal center have also influenced fundamentalism, and in particular the centrality of these in the worship of God.

Wayne Grudem

Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology3 has been a significant source of theological influence on fundamentalists. This assertion is somewhat more difficult to prove than Piper’s influence. Basically, Grudem’s ST has become very attractive to fundamentalists who are becoming more Calvinistic soteriologically or even fully Reformed. Since Grudem is Reformed, and since his ST is probably one of the most readable on the market today, Grudem’s ST is quite popular among especially the younger generation of fundamentalists who are embracing Calvinism or fully Reformed theology.

Grudem’s influence on worship theology is evidenced by the fact that his ST seems to be unique in its focus on worship and extended discussion of the theology of worship. Grudem has an entire chapter on worship (unique among ST’s), each chapter ends with a hymn, and Grudem is deliberate about relating theology to worship throughout the work. It is certainly possible that someone could benefit from some of the theology of Grudem’s ST without being influenced by his theology of worship, but that is highly unlikely since the relationship of theology and worship permeates the work.

Sovereign Grace Ministries

A more recent influence upon modern fundamentalist worship is Sovereign Grace Ministries. This influences comes primarily through two sources: Bob Kauflin and the music published by SGM.

1. Bob Kauflin

Bob Kauflin is Director of Worship Development for SGM. He teaches his theology and practice through his blog, his book Worship Matters: Leading Others to Encounter the Greatness of God,4 and through various conferences and teaching venues. Kauflin and his writings are often praised, cited, and recommended by fundamentalists, and so it is no far stretch to assume that he has a significant influence on the worship of fundamentalists. Kauflin encourages gospel-centered worship and theologically-rich hymns, both good emphases in my opinion.

2. Sovereign Grace Music

SGM produces quite a bit of music, all performed in a pop/rock style, and much targeted to be sung by congregations. They also promote the modern hymns of Stuart Townend, Keith Getty, and others. Their songs are known to be theologically-rich and gospel-centered, and this has been attractive for many fundamentalists who desire their worship services to be God-centered and doctrine-filled. Most fundamentalists “clean up” the songs, using only the text/tune combinations alone, while some are perhaps using the pop styles and/or promoting the SGM recordings themselves.

These songs were probably made most popular among fundamentalist first through the recordings of the Steve Pettit Evangelistic Team and then through there promotion and recording by many fundamentalist colleges and seminaries.

This influence on fundamentalist worship is clearly evident since most of the fundamentalist colleges sing and record these songs, and many fundamentalist churches readily sing them as well.

Unifying Characteristics of These Influences

As I observe the influence of these three sources upon the worship of modern fundamentalism, I notice two primary unifying characteristics of these sources that would have influence upon worship theology:

  1. A God-centered view of worship
  2. A continuationist understanding of the Holy Spirit’s work

A God-centered view of worship

In contrast to an understanding of worship that centers on people in evangelism or discipleship, John Piper, Wayne Grudem, and Sovereign Grace Ministries all strongly stress a God-centeredness that should permeate life and especially worship. This is clearly evidenced in their theology, their emphases, their biblical exposition, their song texts, and their writings. It has certainly influenced their theology of worship, and no doubt has impacted the worship theology and practice of fundamentalists as well. I definitely think that this influence has been quite good. Many fundamentalist churches have focussed their worship services more on God, His Word, and response of the affections toward Him than perhaps in the past. Certainly these influences have come from other sources as well,5 but I think it is safe to say that the three sources above are probably the most significant and universal in this regard.

This influence, in my opinion, is wonderful. For too long many fundamentalist churches have been plagued by man-centered church theology that has bleed into their church services. For many churches, their “worship” has been little more than anthropocentric revivalist meetings or evangelistic meetings. Whatever influence Piper, Gruden, and SGM have had to direct fundamentalist churches toward God-centered theology and worship is something for which I am very grateful.

A continuationist understanding of the Holy Spirit’s work

What is also interesting and important to note is that all three of these sources of influence have a continuationist understanding of the work of the Holy Spirit. Both Sovereign Grace Ministries and Wayne Grudem clearly identify themselves with Third Wave Pentacostalism, and John Piper does by implication in many of his writings. All three understand the sign gifts to be in operation today, and while all three understand baptism of the Spirit as happening simultaneously with conversion, they see Spirit filling as an experiential empowering that often evidences itself in external, physical phenomena.

This continuationism clearly impacts their theology and practice of worship as well. One’s view of the Holy Spirit has direct impact on how he views worship, and would certainly impact his methodology of worship.

For example, Wayne Grudem articulates a theology of worship that assumes a kind of “special, experiential presence” of God in worship.6 Kauflin sees the job of a worship leader as one of “motivation” toward a certain worship experience7 and physical expressiveness in worship as an essential component.8 Piper has made very helpful contributions in terms of stressing the importance of the affections in worship, but he also clearly connects the affections to physical feelings.9 Each of these are examples of how continuationism has influenced their theology and practice of worship, in my opinion.

Yet even if someone disagrees that these particular citations evidence an influence of continuationism, it would still be a bit naïve to assume that their theology of the Holy Spirit has had no impact on their theology and practice of worship.

This particular influence, in my estimation, is problematic, and should be for fundamentalist cessationists.

Excursus 1: Reformed Theology

Immediately apparent from my list above is the absence of Reformed Theology as a unifying characteristic with impact on worship. To be sure, Reformed Theology is a unifying characteristic of these men. However, it is not a unifying characteristic of their influence upon fundamentalist worship because there is no direct impact of Reformed Theology on the styles of music one chooses for worship. ((Words in red have updated 9/18/09 after some helpful comments from readers.))

Instead, I think the function of Reformed Theology in this whole discussion is that the Reformed Theology of these men (or at least their Calvinism) is what has attracted some fundamentalists to their writings. The Calvinism brought them in, and then they were further influenced by other convictions of these men, including their God-centeredness (a good thing, in my opinion) and their continuationism (a not-so-good thing, in my opinion).

Some fundamentalist leaders, observing the popularity of these authors, their music, and their theology, have assumed that it is the Calvinism of these men that has lead many fundamentalists to change their worship theology. However, I must repeat, there is no direct impact of Reformed Theology itself on the styles of music one chooses for worship. ((Words in red have updated 9/18/09 after some helpful comments from readers.)) Historically there have been both conservative and progressive Calvinists, Arminians, Dispensationalists, and Covenant Theologians, and there is nothing inherent in these theological convictions that leads to the adoption of particular styles of music.

In other words, in my opinion, it is right for these fundamentalists leaders to trace the change of worship theology (good or bad) in many fundamental churches back to Piper, Grudem, and Sovereign Grace, but it is not because of their Calvinism.

Excursus 2: Fundamentalists and Worship

What is also apparent from the discussion thus far is an absence of fundamentalists as influences on fundamentalist worship today. It is not as if I am ignoring fundamentalists, or even that those fundamentalists who are changing their worship theology and practice are ignoring fundamentalists. The truth is that there really has been very little theology of worship written and taught by fundamentalists. It’s almost as if worship has been considered an “extra-curricular activity” in the minds of most fundamentalists. In other words, to get a thorough theology of worship, the only place to go has been these conservative evangelical writers whose God-centeredness and continuationism flavor their theology. There have been several books written about music, of course, but very few biblical theologies of worship.

I should note a few exceptions here, however. Michael P. V. Barrett’s book, The Beauty of Holiness: A Guide to Biblical Worship ((Greenville, SC: Ambassador-Emerald, 2006.)) is an excellent treatment of the subject. Gary Reimers has also done some thoughtful teaching on the subject,10 and Bob Jones Seminary just published his book, The Glory Due His Name: What God Says About Worship, this week. I should also mention Dean Kurtz recent book, , and outstanding biblical theology. These sources haven’t received the consideration they deserve, however.

All this to say that I do believe there needs to be more writing on worship theology from a separatist, cessationist perspective.

Conclusion

Much good can be said about the influence of these three sources on the worship of evangelical/fundamental church worship. There is definitely a more theological-mindedness in worship today, many churches are moving away from a “seeker” mentality, and a vertical emphasis is returning. These good trends can be attributed in large part to the contributions of these men. We can praise these men for their God-centeredness and commitment to sound, exegetical theology. We can certainly benefit from this kind of teaching, and I do believe that it has had a good impact on fundamentalist worship today in some respects.

But what is clearly apparent to me is that the biggest influences in worship today are continuationists. I believe that a lot more careful consideration needs to be given to how the continuationism of these men has also influenced worship theology and practice. We would be naïve to assume that it has no impact. It is beyond the scope of this essay to argue against continuationism. I am simply emphasizing that cessationists need to at least recognize this potential influence on their theology and practice of worship.

I, for one, am not against reading or being influenced by individuals or ministries with whom I have theological, philosophical, or methodological disagreement. In other words, I am in no way calling for a fundamentalist censure on these men and their ministries. Far from it. As I mentioned above, I do believe that these influences have been good in some areas.

What I am stressing is for cessationists to be aware of the influence of the continuationism of these men and ministries upon the worship of evangelicalism and fundamentalism.

Finally, I also believe that there is a great need for fundamentalists who are both Calvinistic and cessationists to think more and write more on worship theology and practice.11 It is dangerous, in my opinion, that practically the only Calvinists writing on worship are also continuationists. If the only place Calvinists can go for a theology of worship is to continuationists, it is no wonder that there is a strong connection between Calvinism and progressive worship today.

Scott Aniol

About Scott Aniol

Scott Aniol is the founder and Executive Director of Religious Affections Ministries. He is Chair of the Worship Ministry Department at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he teaches courses in ministry, worship, hymnology, aesthetics, culture, and philosophy. He is the author of Worship in Song: A Biblical Approach to Music and Worship, Sound Worship: A Guide to Making Musical Choices in a Noisy World, and By the Waters of Babylon: Worship in a Post-Christian Culture, and speaks around the country in churches and conferences. He is an elder in his church in Fort Worth, TX where he resides with his wife and four children. Views posted here are his own and not necessarily those of his employer.

  1. By “fundamentalism” I mean those churches and institutions that have traditionally maintained a separatist position regarding theological error and pop cultural forms. []
  2. Piper argues this, for instance, in God’s Passion for His Glory: Living the Vision of Jonathan Edwards (Wheaton: Crossway, 1998) and The Pleasures of God: Meditations on God’s Delight in Being God (Colorado Springs: Multnomah, 2000). []
  3. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1995. []
  4. Wheaton, Crossway, 2008. []
  5. For instance, fundamentalists under the influence of Dave Doran and Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary or Kevin Bauder and Central Baptist Seminary have witnessed emphases similar to those of Piper, Grudem, and SGM, particularly the God-centeredness. However, a relatively few fundamentalists have been influenced by Doran or Bauder compared to the almost universal impact of Piper, Grudem, and SGM. []
  6. See Grudem, pp. 1007-1008, for example. []
  7. See Kauflin, p. 121ff. []
  8. See Ibid, p. 169ff. While Kauflin is quick to admit that physical expressiveness does not prove someone is worshiping, he nevertheless insists than a mature Christian will express himself physically in worship. He does not explore sign gifts in his book, written for a broader audience, but he admits that he does believe that they are still operative today, and even talks of receiving direct prophetic revelation in the form of song. []
  9. See Desiring God, p. 89ff., for example. Piper clearly says, “The definition of these “affections” (or what most people today mean by feelings) is . . .” []
  10. You can find his series on worship here: http://www.cornerstonebaptist.info/sermons.htm. []
  11. I should note that Michael Barrett’s book would be one example of this, and evangelical Reformed cessationists have done a bit of this as well. For example, Give Praise to God: A Vision for Reforming Worship, edited by Ryken, Thomas, and Duncan (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 2003). []

28 Responses to What is influencing fundamentalist worship today?

  1. Scott,

    Thanks for another insightful and thought-provoking article. You helpfully stimulate me to do some serious thinking.

    I am not yet convinced, however, that Reformed Theology does not significantly influence worship practices. In a purely subjective evaluation, I know it did for me. I see the puzzling divide among churches espousing Reformed (at at least Sovereign Grace theology) as a matter of either consistency or inconsistency. Those who are consistent pursue a more conservative God-centered worship. Those who want to have their cake and eat it too, that is pusrue sound theology, but follow a more popular style of worship, ignore the implications of their theology and adopt more modern trends.

    Cordially,
    Greg Barkman

  2. I understand what you're saying, Pastor Barkman. I, too, think that one's theology should have impact upon his worship.

    My point was more one of observation than prescription. As you note, there are some Reformed churches with quite contemporary worship, and others with very conservative worship.

    I am also guarding against those anti-Reformed fundamentalists who I have heard insist that Reformed theology actually leads to CCM!

  3. Scott,
    Thanks for making this connection between continuationism and worship. A couple of points:

    1. (This doesn't have much to do with your article) Is your first footnote really your definition of fundamentalism? I agree with the first half about separating from theological error. What I don't understand is why using or not using pop cultural forms has anything to do with defining fundamentalism. (I'll note that I happen to agree with you on many points regarding music philosophy, and prefer to use very conservative styles.) I'm sure you've wrestled to find a good definition of "fundamentalism," as I have. Perhaps we could define the idea of fundamentalism as "a gathering of diverse elements within Christianity around core doctrines of the faith for the purpose of defending those doctrines and promoting unity in the body of Christ made possible by this shared basis of theology. " I'm sure this definition, too, could be much better or more precise. It seems to me, though, that one's choice of musical style (important and revealing of one's view of God, as it is) cannot be placed anywhere near the central, core doctrines around which fundamentalists attempt to unite. In short, I may believe that a brother is unwise or [insert almost any quality you like] for using a certain style of music, but I'll never question his status as a brother or his core doctrine unless I'm given something else substantial to go on.

    2. Related to the above, do you think it is possible to be a continuationist as well as a fundamentalist? I'm not sure that I know any. But it would be interesting to explore. In other words, how "fundamental" to one's faith is one's belief in cessation/continuation?

    Thanks for your thoughtful post.
    Scott Moore

  4. Scott:

    IMO, if Piper “conservative” evangelicals influence worship in Fundamentalism is to be discussed, the starting point for that discussion should be the article by Dr. Peter Masters. The Merger of Calvinism With Worldliness

    You wrote, “I, for one, am not again reading or being influenced by individuals or ministries with whom I have theological, philosophical, or methodological disagreement. In other words, I am in no way calling for a fundamentalist censure on these men and their ministries.”

    At what point does the Fundamentalist, who professes absolute fidelity to the Scriptures, finally come to the point of following the biblical mandates to admonish, when with Piper it is so clearly warranted?

    *Taking his staff to the Toronto Blessing, for a blessing
    *Preaching at Christian Rock concerts
    *Bringing a RAP artist into his church for a performance
    *Sees the miraculous gifts of the 1st century church as still active and possible for today
    *Proposed acceptance of a regenerate, but not scripturally baptized church membership (subsequently dropped)
    *Tacit endorsement of the radical theologian N. T. Wright
    *Continued support for Mark Driscoll (the “cussing” pastor) hosting Driscoll in his pulpit, and Piper has on occasion used some very off-color remarks himself.

    Is it possible that the like-mindedness on Calvinism is restraining Calvinistic IFB men from admonishing and rebuking Piper? I can’t image any pastor in IFB circles taking the views Piper does and being given a pass from IFB men who have been inclined to let Piper have his way without a clear rebuke and strong unvarnished cautions about his aberrant views to the IFB community.

    Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother,” (2 Thess. 3:15).

    Just how much more do we have to see from Piper before Reformed IFB men, who for years have promoted and endorsed Piper’s ministry to IFB people, will openly admonish him.

    What more does it take to obey the mandate that is so clearly warranted?

    LM

  5. Scott, I wouldn't deny that these three influences are present, though I'm skeptical that Grudem holds substantial sway.

    But you're arguing that these "three sources have influenced modern fundamentalist worship most." I just don't think that's true at all. I still think that revivalism, fundamentalist tradition, Majesty Music, and people like Frank Garlock and Tim Fisher and Ron Hamilton still steer the . . . ship.

  6. I followed your argument that Calvinism specifically does not lead to CCM.
    However, are you saying that a Continuationist position leads to CCM?

  7. Very interesting article, Scott. You're going to be more read if you keep writing like this.

    What about Scott Aniol's influence? ;-)

    I have to agree with Ben that the three people he mentioned have the most influence. And you're also out of touch with those who are influenced by the old BBF and Sword/Hyles-Rice-Roberson type of influence. And then I would say that BJU still has a gargantuan influence, very big. I would say most fundamentalists even know who the guys you mentioned, except for Piper. You really are considering only the BJ/MBBC/NBBC group, which is a shrinking group compared to the West Coast/Crown College/Pensacola. I'm not endorsing at all the last three, but they are expanding rapidly.

  8. Scott,

    I'm clearly generalizing in my definition. In my view, fundamentalism is not a monolithic movement by any stretch, if such a "movement" even exists today. So I'm stripping down to one primary idea (separation) in two forms (from theological error and pop culture). While I would be the first to argue that fundamentalists have (1) allowed theological error into their doctrine and (2) adopted certain (usually outdated) forms of pop culture into their liturgy, fundamentalists generally have been characterized by suspicious of heteroxy and pop culture. I guess I could have said, "Institutions that call themselves 'fundamentalists.'"

    Lou,

    You may disagree wtih my view and approach, but I do not believe that separation is an all-or-nothing proposition. Because of certain characteristics and positions of John PIper, SGM, etc, I feel like I must (1) limit certain areas of cooperation and (2) point out where I think they are wrong. And I have clearly done the latter. But that does not mean that I cannot also point out their good. In my opinion, some fundamentalists have done more to hurt their cause than help by treating evangelicals as if they are heretics and have nothing of benefit to offer.

    Ben and Kent,

    Thanks; I do agree with you. Again, I was being somewhat oversimplistic. I guess what I should have been clear about is that I think these are the influences that are moving some fundamentalists to adopt more progressive philosophies. Those who are set in their way (either in conservatism or traditionalism) are probably not being influenced in this way.

    Anthony,

    I would say, with care, that continuationism does lead to preferring musical forms that are more physically stimulating, because those who hold to such theology would see external, physical feelings and movement as a mark of spiritual maturity.

  9. Hello Scott:

    I did not necessarily disagree with you. In the past you have pointed out areas of concern and I have been with you on those issues. This article raised some thoughts that I decided to address in the broad spectrum of what has been going on and the lack of what IMO should be going on in regard to Piper from and within IFB circles.

    In my previous post I was not even referring to “separation” from Piper. I was asking why among IFB Reformed men there is an absence of admonishing (2 Thess. 3:15) Piper when his aberrant views and actions, which I enumerated above, clearly call for it. That said, it is unquestionable that there is a definite lack of appreciation for biblical separation among the men in evangelicalism.

    FYI, last week Ps. Harding and I were talking about some of these things. He accepts my criticism of men like MacArthur because he also knows that I will, when I believe it is warranted, recognize him when he has something, “of benefit to offer.”

    When we come to Piper, however, his increasing trends toward the kind of things that should never be winked at or tolerated in IFB circles just about negates anything of value he has to offer, IMHO. But as I asked above, could it be the Calvinism connection that restrains Calvinistic IFB men from openly admonishing him when it is irrefutably warranted?

    Why endorse any aspect of Piper’s ministry when that may lead some to embrace the most disturbing aspects such as his affinity for the sign gifts? There are certainly other men that can fill his space that do not present the dangers that he (Piper) does. Wouldn’t you agree?

    Finally, you wrote, “In my opinion, some fundamentalists have done more to hurt their cause than help by treating evangelicals as if they are heretics and have nothing of benefit to offer.”

    I can agree with that in part. There should be balanced and cautious approach to the evangelicals. What I have seen for years, however, is an eager and aggressive promotion of strengthening ties with them. More recently I am seeing efforts by some in IFB circles to reshape and/or redefine Fundamentalism after the model set by the star personalities of the conservative evangelical camp, Piper included.

    My concern is that the troubling trends of Piper are given a near complete pass by prominent Calvinistic men in IFB circles. It is refreshing to see Piper’s continuation” finally coming under sharp scrutiny. But alas, still no open rebukes from men who for years through various outlets, most visibly at Sharper Iron and with the enthusiastic support of SI’s leadership, have promoted and endorsed Piper (books, preaching and fellowships) with almost no caution whatsoever in regard to the obvious, long standing problems associated with him and his methods of ministry.

    Lou
    *(Please delete previous)

  10. I'm not going to get into the main point of this article (since I don't think it would be productive), but I did want to comment on this:

    "I, for one, am not again reading or being influenced by individuals or ministries with whom I have theological, philosophical, or methodological disagreement."

    Closing our minds to even considering alternative perspectives seems to be highly arrogant. I believe we absolutely must engage the ideas of those with whom we disagree. That means reading them with an open, though critically discerning, mind.

  11. Lou wrote:
    "Why endorse any aspect of Piper’s ministry when that may lead some to embrace the most disturbing aspects such as his affinity for the sign gifts?"

    Lou, I don't expect you to agree, and I'm not going to carry on a protracted debated. But I think the answer is that Piper has, in many ways, restored the gospel to the center of Christian life and growth. He's done that like few if any others. Many fundamentalists realize that, and they realize it's a crucial corrective to the current condition of the remains of the fundamentalist movement.

  12. Scott, I had a typo in that particular paragraph that may have confused you. I have corrected it above. It reads now:

    “I, for one, am not against reading or being influenced by individuals or ministries with whom I have theological, philosophical, or methodological disagreement.”

    So I agree with you 100%, and that was the point I was trying to make. Hope that clarifies things.

    Ben, I agree with you.

    For me, Piper was the first to really make real to me the fact that religious affections are at the center of biblical region. He affected (no pun intended) me significantly in that area when I was in high school. That truth now is really at the heart (again, no pun intended) of my philosophy of worship.

    Where I think Piper is errant is that he doesn't seem to make any distinctions within the category of "emotion," and he uses "affections," "feelings," "emotions," and "passions" interchangeably as if there is no difference. Further, it seems that for Piper affections will always be physical and discernible. This is where I am postulating a particular understanding of the nature of spiritual experience and the Holy Spirit's work will flavor one's understanding of the affections and worship.

  13. Ahhh, much better. :-D Two letters can make all the difference in the world. I had thought it was an awkward sentence construction, and now I understand why.

  14. Ben:

    Nor am I looking for a protracted debate or expect your agreement. That said- Piper is among the men who have, through their Lordship Salvation theology, corrupted, “the simplicity that is in Christ” (2 Cor. 11:3) and frustrated grace (Gal. 2:21).

    Furthermore, his actions have at times shown a huge disconnect from what he writes on the “Christian life and growth.”

    LM

  15. Lou, though I disagree with you, without a doubt the question you address is deadly serious and if you were right it would actually be a much more serious charge than continuationism.

    Again, without seeking a debate, I simply want to observe that very many, myself included, believe Piper has reintroduced grace to Christian sanctification, without emasculating the call to produce fruits in keeping with repentance. That's why he's held up by so many in a positive light.

  16. Lou, Piper's Lordship views are not the point of discussion here. If you'd like to talk about his continuationism, fine, but to bring up LS is beyond the scope of this article.

    I, for one, am in complete agreement with Piper's teaching on salvation and sanctification, I think Piper has served fundamentalism well with this influence, and it has absolutely no impact on worship.

  17. Scott:

    Thank you for that, but IMO (since the Gospel has been raised by Ben) it was a timely note at the moment without further comment.

    Ben:

    BTW, there are without a doubt some folks in the Fundamentalist movement that need a “corrective.” There are for sure a number of pastors in the “conservative” evangelical camp that are in need of a “corrective,” starting with “continuationism” of the sign gifts and absolute fidelity to the whole counsel of God, including His mandates for biblical separation.

    The answer to the problems in Fundamentalism are NOT found in adopting the problems of the conservative evangelical community by becoming what evangelicals are.

    LM

  18. Scott M: You say, "In short, I may believe that a brother is unwise or [insert almost any quality you like] for using a certain style of music, but I’ll never question his status as a brother or his core doctrine unless I’m given something else substantial to go on." If one's worship is a reflection of the person worshipped (God-centered worship), isn't the core doctrine of the very person and nature of God at play when one's music obviously denies the holiness of God? How can one get more core than the very person and nature of God? If, however, we conclude that one's worship is not a reflection of the person and nature of God, then your statement makes sense.

  19. Lou,

    Your relentless mission to "correct" what you think is the error of Lordship salvation provides an interesting foil to explore Fundamentalist separation issues thoughtfully. You want Fundamentalists to "separate" from Piper, MacArthur, etc., over the Lordship issue. But many Fundamtalists agree with Piper, etc., on this issue, and nearly all issues related to the Gospel. Of necessary consequence, these same Fundamentalists necessarily disagree with you on these same Gospel issues.

    Should such men "separate from you? Should you separate from those Fundamentalists who agree with Piper? If not, why not? Isn't the Gospel the most basic doctrine of the Christian Faith? If so, doesn't that contradict the original premise of Fundamentalism, which united Bible-believers of various denominational theological positions against Modernism?

    I'm thankful that the doctrine of separation is being re-examined today. After all, we want to practice Biblical separation, not human-tradition separation, don't we?

    Warm regards,
    Greg Barkman

  20. Tom,
    A very good observation, and one that made me stop and think; thank you. You are correct (I think) in saying that the use of what we would consider worldly music styles is tied to the musician's/listener's view of the holiness of God. I think it is probably THE main doctrine to which issues of worldliness are tied. However we have to remember that those who listen to and perform that kind of music are not attempting to deny the holiness of God; they have a differing view of his holiness (with which I disagree, based on my reading of scripture) that allows for that type of music. What I was really trying to say in my earlier post was that someone's use of pop styles is not evidence that they deny the virgin birth or Christ's penal substitutionary atonement, or that they're fuzzy on their definition of justification or that they deny his bodily resurrection, etc. To me, a disagreement with a brother on exactly how the holiness of God is to be lived out when it comes to music is not cause for me to question his faith.
    That being said, differences in how one views the holiness of God do make it difficult to worship together and work together in many instances -which does result in a sort of "separation," but one which I would describe as a "friendly" separation of expedience, not one in which I call the other party a heretic.
    Hope this makes things a little clearer. Feel free to set me straight on any of the above.
    Thanks,
    Scott Moore

  21. Greg:

    You neglected one very crucial point. Let me rephrase (with adds in parentheses) a portion of your comment to clarify for everyone.

    “But many (Calvinistic/Reformed) Fundamtalists (sic) agree with Piper, etc., on this issue, and nearly all issues related to the Gospel. Of necessary consequence, these same (Calvinistic/Reformed) Fundamentalists necessarily disagree with you on these same Gospel issues.”

    FWIW, you may not be aware of this, but a number of Calvinistic men in IFB circles have serious reservations with MacArthur's statements on his Lordship Salvation message.

    Now, please drop the LS commentary as Scott requested earlier in this thread. You can engage me any time at my blog at your leisure.

    LM

  22. ScottM: Thank you for the clarification. Maybe I'm being too fussy on this, but it seems there is a large difference between how one "lives out" the holiness of God (degrees of personal separation) and how one defines the holiness of God. My post is concerned with how one defines the holiness of God as demonstrated by the reflection of God in one's worship. Again, I'm basing this on an assumption that one's worship is a reflection of one's understanding of God's attributes. In the aspect of holiness, God is definitely not licentious, selfishly sexual, emotionally sentimental, rebellious, and other characteristics so prevalent in popular music styles. God is holy. Scripture is clear (absolute) on that definition. Denying that definition through one's choice of worship practices is, in my opinion, a core theological issue. After all, if God is not holy, there is no need for redemption. If God is like popular music, He's a lot more like me than I thought He was. He's a lot less like God and a lot more like fallen man. Maybe I'm splitting hairs? Maybe this is so obvious to me that I'm unable to see an objective counter argument? As with you, I appreciate any guidance.

  23. Greg: Aren't better than to come back with judging my emotion (or lack there of) from printed words and the condescension? The offer for you to engage the issue with me at my blog is still open to you. Pick one the articles on LS there and have at it; OK?

    LM

  24. Time will tell as to whether the influence of Sovereign Grace Ministries (which, by all indication in reading their website materials is really a denomination, not a single church) is good or not. I find it interesting that so many of the sovereign grace "team" who are musicians come from pop/rock music backgrounds. I guess I shouldn't, since in one of Bob Kauflin's blogs titled "What Does Music Mean" he basically says that the words of the Christian song must be Christian ("I'm not condoning sinful lyrics" – his quote), then leaves the music to the wind. His view of music is that it is "a morally neutral language of emotion expressed in a cultural context." So, what do we do about the beat (and sometimes a very hard beat and lots of it) in many of the Sovereign Grace songs? Is this pop/rock beat acceptable in Christian music or not? Is rock music even wrong? Bob in the same blog post goes on to assert that guilt-by-association cannot be used when referring to music and its beat.

    I must say that he is entirely wrong on this point. Association is an extremely important point, both practically and Biblical. Association is "the connection or relation of ideas, feelings, sensations, etc.; correlation of elements of perception, reasoning, or the like." Close your eyes while watching an action movie and you will KNOW where the action begins and ends. The music changes to reflect the writer's desire for you to "fell" the action. My unsaved father used to take me to bars when I was a child. I never, ever heard music that had Scriptural words and wonderful music at the bar. While still a youth, I did hear the same kind of music being played at weddings of unsaved family members where there was drinking and dancing where immodesty was definitely the way of dress for the women present.

    So, how should a ministry like Sovereign Grace handle the music issue? They should teach the truth about music. David used music to chase away the evil spirit within Saul (I Samuel 16:23.) Music seems pretty powerful to me. I wonder if David's music had the turmoil present in today's rock music? I wonder what affect today's rock music has on the spirit of our youth? It appears to me that the rock music of today might be very similar to the music heard by Moses and Joshua when they were away and Aaron and the the Israelite camp were in the middle of pagan worship. Why didn't any evil spirits flee this time?

    They should also take the higher ground when it comes to what it teaches and uses in its services. Where does Paul's carefulness not to offend a brother whose past included idol worship match with Sovereign Grace's use of music that is oftentimes worldly and even sensual? Bob Kauflin spends a great deal of time discounting this verse in I Cor 8:4,6. He states …
    "Paul's discussion of idols in ! Corrintians 8 gets to the heart of the matter. In the Corinthian church there were weaker Christians who believed that eating food that had been sacrificed to idols was equivalent to worshiping that idol. Paul responds by stating, "We know that an idol is noting at all in the world and that there is not God but one … For us there is but one God, the Father, from while all things come and for whom we love" (I Co 8:4,6) In other words, idols have no innate power or rule over us. Whatever influence an idol exerts over someone is rooted in the beliefs of the worshiper. Yes, Paul goes on to encourage the stronger Christian to refrain from using their freedom as an occasion to tempt their weaker brothers. But the subject of this series is not how to defer to one another in love. We're trying to focus on what music means. And the Bible is clear that music, as part of God's creation, has no inherent ability to change us morally."

    Music is not morally neutral. Just as art can be vulgar, clothing can be sensual, and words can be used to corrupt, so the message of music does have moral implications and can be wrong and harmful. I believe that Sovereign Grace does far less good than I have read here in this post.

    Their charismatic beliefs, the speaking in tongues, the council involvement by C.J. Mahaney (the president of Sovereign Grace Ministries) in the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals (an ecumenical group of churches of many denominations), their encouragement of prophetic utterances makes me wonder why any reasonable separatist would have anything to do with their music. (See http://www.challies.com/liveblogging/worshipgod06… for info on this.)

    Is there not enough quality Christian music available to the separatist church and its members? Shouldn't we be choosing music from those who mimic our faith and practice? Quite possibly that is the reason that Sovereign Grace has become so popular. It mimics the faith and the practice of what is prevalent in our world. Where are the separatists who will be transformed, not conformed?

  25. Time will tell as to whether the influence of Sovereign Grace Ministries (which, by all indication in reading their website materials is really a denomination, not a single church) is good or not. I find it interesting that so many of the sovereign grace "team" who are musicians come from pop/rock music backgrounds. I guess I shouldn't, since in one of Bob Kauflin's blogs titled "What Does Music Mean" he basically says that the words of the Christian song must be Christian ("I'm not condoning sinful lyrics" – his quote), then leaves the music to the wind. His view of music is that it is "a morally neutral language of emotion expressed in a cultural context." So, what do we do about the beat (and sometimes a very hard beat and lots of it) in many of the Sovereign Grace songs? Is this pop/rock beat acceptable in Christian music or not? Is rock music even wrong? Bob in the same blog post goes on to assert that guilt-by-association cannot be used when referring to music and its beat.

    I must say that he is entirely wrong on this point. Association is an extremely important point, both practically and Biblical. Association is "the connection or relation of ideas, feelings, sensations, etc.; correlation of elements of perception, reasoning, or the like." Close your eyes while watching an action movie and you will KNOW where the action begins and ends. The music changes to reflect the writer's desire for you to "fell" the action. My unsaved father used to take me to bars when I was a child. I never, ever heard music that had Scriptural words and wonderful music at the bar. While still a youth, I did hear the same kind of music being played at weddings of unsaved family members where there was drinking and dancing where immodesty was definitely the way of dress for the women present.

    So, how should a ministry like Sovereign Grace handle the music issue? They should teach the truth about music. David used music to chase away the evil spirit within Saul (I Samuel 16:23.) Music seems pretty powerful to me. I wonder if David's music had the turmoil present in today's rock music? I wonder what affect today's rock music has on the spirit of our youth? It appears to me that the rock music of today might be very similar to the music heard by Moses and Joshua when they were away and Aaron and the the Israelite camp were in the middle of pagan worship. Why didn't any evil spirits flee this time?

    They should also take the higher ground when it comes to what it teaches and uses in its services. Where does Paul's carefulness not to offend a brother whose past included idol worship match with Sovereign Grace's use of music that is oftentimes worldly and even sensual? Bob Kauflin spends a great deal of time discounting this verse in I Cor 8:4,6. He states …

    "Paul's discussion of idols in I Corinthians 8 gets to the heart of the matter. In the Corinthian church there were weaker Christians who believed that eating food that had been sacrificed to idols was equivalent to worshiping that idol. Paul responds by stating, "We know that an idol is noting at all in the world and that there is not God but one … For us there is but one God, the Father, from while all things come and for whom we love" (I Co 8:4,6) In other words, idols have no innate power or rule over us. Whatever influence an idol exerts over someone is rooted in the beliefs of the worshiper. Yes, Paul goes on to encourage the stronger Christian to refrain from using their freedom as an occasion to tempt their weaker brothers. But the subject of this series is not how to defer to one another in love. We're trying to focus on what music means. And the Bible is clear that music, as part of God's creation, has no inherent ability to change us morally."

    Amazing … so, if a new believer who is saved from a way of life whereby rock music is associated with that way of life, the other believers, it seems by the council of Mr. Kauflin, should simply remember that music has no ability to change us morally. The new believer should just get over it. I remember a story by a missionary friend of mine. He said that while he was serving in Africa was given a music tape. He put the tape in the player and turned it on. Out came the rock music and its beat. The African house keeper instantly turned to this missionary and said with shock and said, "that is music they pay at the bar." The missionary hadn't heard the music group in many, many years. Their music had changed over the years. So, what do you think of when you hear the beat?

    Music is not morally neutral. Just as art can be vulgar, clothing can be sensual, and words can be used to corrupt, so the message of music does have moral implications and can be wrong and harmful. I believe that Sovereign Grace does far less good than I have read here in this post.

    Their charismatic beliefs, the speaking in tongues, the council involvement by C.J. Mahaney (the president of Sovereign Grace Ministries) in the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals (an ecumenical group of churches of many denominations), their encouragement of prophetic utterances makes me wonder why any reasonable separatist would have anything to do with their music. (See http://www.challies.com/liveblogging/worshipgod06… for info on this.)

    Is there not enough quality Christian music available to the separatist church and its members? Shouldn't we be choosing music from those who mimic our faith and practice? Quite possibly that is the reason that Sovereign Grace has become so popular. It mimics the faith and the practice of what is prevalent in our world. Where are the separatists who will be transformed, and conform?

  26. "The truth is that there really has been very little theology of worship written and taught by fundamentalists. It’s almost as if worship has been considered an “extra-curricular activity” in the minds of most fundamentalists. "
    You hit the nail on the head with this quote. I am baffled by this concept. Fundamentalists have no one to blame but themselves for not making worship a priority. Extra-curricular is a perfect description for most fundamental worship services. Worship is merely an add-on to the message. Prayers, hymns and public reading of the scripture are just items that churches muddle through until the sermon arrives. Interspersed between are announcements, stories and even jokes! This may be an erroneous reaction to anything "liturgical" or "high church." The announcements may be important and the stories and jokes funny, but it has left fundamentalist worship with an improper "anything goes" attitude in the service.
    When you add the typical fundamentalist worship music, which is typically a smorgasbord of poorly written gospel songs and weak fundamentalist songs along with a few decent hymns, you have the typical fundamentalist worship service.
    So what qualifies fundamentalists to judge worship or music in the church? By all accounts most fundamentalist services should be considered contemporary when compared to truly reformed worship or even Anglican worship. Somewhere along the line fundamentalism deemed any music acceptable if it was not considered “worldly.” This became the only criteria for music in fundamentalist churches. Just because music is not “worldly” by today’s standards does not mean it is not bad and unacceptable for worship. In fundamentalism much bad music and bad lyrics are given a pass because they were written 150 years ago. How could anything 150 years old be worldly and therefore bad? God deserves the best as a musical offering and many of the older gospel songs just don’t cut it in word or music. They should be able to stand up to the same scrutiny as contemporary music. I think fundamentalists need to examine their own worship before they exercise harsh judgment on others. There are many well respected fundamentalist churches that are ignorantly engaging in their own version of contemporary, reckless worship, while they cast judgment on everyone else.

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