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Is Your Church Worship More Pagan than Christian? by Todd Pruitt

This is a point I make every semester to my students:

There is a great misunderstanding in churches of the purpose of music in Christian worship. Churches routinely advertise their “life-changing” or “dynamic” worship that will “bring you closer to God” or “change your life.” Certain worship CD’s promise that the music will “enable you to enter the presence of God.” Even a flyer for a recent conference for worship leaders boasted:

“Join us for dynamic teaching to set you on the right path, and inspiring worship where you can meet God and receive the energy and love you need to be a mover and shaker in today’s world…Alongside our teaching program are worship events which put you in touch with the power and love of God.”

The problem with the flyer and with many church ads is that these kinds of promises reveal a significant theological error. Music is viewed as a means to facilitate an encounter with God; it will move us closer to God. In this schema, music becomes a means of mediation between God and man. But this idea is closer to ecstatic pagan practices than to Christian worship.

via Is Your Church Worship More Pagan than Christian? by Todd Pruitt – Worship.

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.

3 Responses to Is Your Church Worship More Pagan than Christian? by Todd Pruitt

  1. In addition to the errors Scott mentions above, authors of statements such as these err in assigning music the elevated status of a promised means of grace. Nowhere in Scripture is music promised to draw us closer to God. Though it is a commanded element of worship like prayer, reading and preaching of the word, and the sacraments, it is unique among the commanded elements in that it does not have the same promise attached to it that these others do, namely, that God will use it to draw us closer to Himself.

  2. amendment: sorry, Todd mentions, not Scott. Also, this is not to limit God; He obviously may use anything He pleases to draw us closer to Himself. It is our error, though, when we elevate one or more individuals’ experience to something He promises to do, and built church practice and/or doctrine on it.

  3. Anything that promises to “make you a mover and a shaker in today’s world” should be suspect. Some promoters of these conferences have no shame. So God is now the Big Daddy in the sky granting personal audiences to those who can effectively get into praise and worship? Oh Lord forgive them, for they are idiots. Will this give-so-you-can-get theology ever die. Hello. Praise and worship with or without music is something we give to God, period.

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