Recent Posts
If you're like most people right now, you're finding yourself at home a whole more [more]
The exact day of the week of Christ's death has been debated for centuries. The [more]
Some readers of this column had parents or grandparents who could recall the Depression. Unsurprisingly, [more]
One of the things I'm going to miss most (among many!) during this unusual season [more]
Jeff Straub We are living in unprecedented times, to be sure. On Friday, New York [more]

Is Your Worship Christian or Pagan? 7 Tests by Todd Pruitt

Todd Pruit provides seven excellent principles by which we can measure whether or not our worship is pagan:

  1. Worship is to be regulated according to Scripture.
  2. Worship is the response to God’s self-revelation.
  3. Worship may be accompanied by affections but not guided by them.
  4. Worship should not be governed by pragmatic concerns.
  5. Worship is for God.
  6. Worship is not meant to facilitate mystical encounters with God.
  7. Worship and obedience are inseparable.

Read the whole thing: Is Your Worship Christian or Pagan? 7 Tests 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.

2 Responses to Is Your Worship Christian or Pagan? 7 Tests by Todd Pruitt

  1. Pastor Scott,

    I read the post by , published at Christianity dot com.

    I arrived there from a web link from your post.

    I’ll try to keep this brief. I have a question about pragmatism. I suppose I’m still very new to the terms “pragmatic concerns” and “pragmatism”.

    Case # 4 reads as follows.

    ‘4. Worship should not be governed by pragmatic concerns.
    If there is an unofficial religion among evangelicals today it may well be pragmatism. It’s the idea that if it works, then it must be good. If it grows our church, if it attracts young families, if it appeals to millennials, if it produces the right emotions then it is good.’

    With all due respect to you — and I’m not a pastor and have never officially held a title of pastor — I’m not sure where the criticism is targeted.

    I know of a certain church that formerly had one single worship service. Then the church implemented a young people’s service — in the early morning with contemporary music — in addition to the existing service later in the day. I’m not sure they did it “to promote the right emotions”. I’m not a member of the church, so I don’t know why they did it. But I don’t hold that they were wrong in doing it. Maybe there was a thinking that a 2nd service in the early morning would help the church grow, or to help young people connect, or to cater to believers (and their friends) who just found it extremely difficult for a late-morning service to sort of “break up” their day’s activities. (In college, there can be certain amenities in having an early-morning classroom, because it allows more of a continual freedom for other (different) activities during a day.

    The author goes on to say: ‘But the church’s worship must never be governed by such concerns as church growth, the preferences of unbelievers, attraction to a preferred demographic, or our subjective experience.’

    But I don’t know where we see this occurring. I don’t know where the criticism is directed.

    I also don’t know what is wrong with targeting emotions. Several years ago, I wrote an “evangelizing” song, and then a couple of years later I performed it in front of maybe eight or ten people. It had a verse where the song builds up to a sort of crescendo, where it has the ability to cause emotions to rise to the surface. After I performed the song, one lady in the listening audience told me that it made her cry and it made her think of her daughter. She was obviously emotional. Did I sin? Maybe I sinned. But how?

    Secondly, if we flip the coin to the other side: I don’t know that a worship service should exclude — instead of include — a certain demographic. I guess I don’t see what’s necessarily wrong with “pragmatic concerns”.

    I was grew up mostly in a couple of Protestant churches. I went to a Catholic boys’ school, but I am not Catholic. Over the past several years (I’m 47), I’ve attended churches that identify with Presbyterianism, and churches that identify with evangelicalism, and churches the identify themselves with the foursquare or Pentecostal movement. I’ve attended “mega-church” worship services. I’ve attended very small congregations and very large congregations. I’ve even attended worship services geared toward certain demographic who were (are) experiencing certain difficult times in their lives and where many of those in the congregation may have been required to attend.

    I’m not sure of where you see pragmatism occurring. But I guess more than that, I don’t see targeting a certain demographic as necessarily wrong. I don’t see playing to people’s hearts as necessarily wrong. I don’t see targeting alcoholics as necessarily wrong. I don’t see targeting septuagenarians as necessarily wrong.

    Can you please help me better understand pragmatism and why it’s so wrong to target certain demographics or age groups. I have been in the congregation where the head pastor expressed a desire to see more marriages within the congregation. I don’t see anything wrong with that. I’m not saying it should be first-priority, but I’m not sure it should be criticised. What’s wrong with wanting church growth? What’s wrong with wanting more marriages?

    Can you please help me better understand these things, so that I can be better equipped to handle these sorts of questions in the Christian circles where I’ve been.

    Thanks for allowing me to post.

  2. One more bit on being pragmatic. If a missionary group wants to bring the gospel to a certain aborigine tribe, or perhaps a certain African tribe — and the tribe best understands motions and behavior and experiences they are already familiar with — what’s wrong in playing to their preferences? I recall being in a worship service which invited a tribal group to sing a couple of worship songs. One of the songs went like this:

    Jesus is the winner man,
    The winner man,
    The winner man,
    Jesus is the winner man….

    Maybe that’s the most complex form of worship that the tribal group understood. If we then travel to their hometown or place of worship, won’t we reach them more effectively if we speak in their own tongue?

    The Bible has been translated into many languages. If we translate it further into an additional language, won’t we reach those people who are only familiar with that particular language? Suppose there is a rarely-known tribal language somewhere. If I’m thinking, “These people need to hear the Gospel”, should I speak in my mother tongue (Americanized English)? If they hear me speak in my mother tongue, will I reach as many as if I were to speak in their language?

Leave a reply