Thursday, February 25, 2010

Weirded Out by Worship

Ever hear this praise song?

I'm gonna run to you
I'm gonna come to you
I wanna find you
In everything that I do
I'm gonna run to you
I'm gonna count on you
I'm gonna follow
What else can I do?

How about this one?

Listen to your heart
when he's calling for you.
Listen to your heart
there's nothing else you can do.
I don't know where you're going
and I don't know why,
but listen to your heart
before you tell him goodbye.

OK. Just kidding. Some of you probably know that these are both Roxette songs. A great act and a guilty pleasure, but no… this is not a post arguing for more eighties euro-pop in worship services. Quite the contrary.

The very fact that songs like this could be mistaken for praise and worship songs demonstrates a troubling trend the past few years in praise music. When did “God is love” become “God is my lover?”

Try this one on for size:

I feel I'm moving to the rhythm of Your grace
Your fragrance is intoxicating in the secret place

This time it is a portion from a chorus by Darrel Evans and rerecorded by Casting Crowns. Uncomfortable, isn’t it? It says a lot that this song has caught on at several Christian weddings. As uncomfortable as it is to hear that song in corporate worship, try hearing it at someone’s nuptials. iiigggggghh.

God is a God of love. He IS love. However, true love is not only or even best encompassed in Eros. God’s love is seen in sacrifice. His love is also incomplete without taking His holiness, wrath, and justice into account.

We might could use more balance in our musical praise.

6 comments:

  1. I once heard someone say that he couldn't worship someone he could take (preceeded by a hilarious chorus of 'Let me climb in your lap and stroke your beard, Jesus!').

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  2. I had never heard the Casting Crowns one until we got a new 7th grade Bible teacher at the school; he also leads the worship for middle school chapel each week. He has introduced that chorus to the kids and has sung it several times. It really bothered me! I am glad that the kids don't seem to know it, nor care to learn it; they don't sing much, however. It is sad; the whole problem of a mandatory chapel time.
    But that song really bothers me!

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  3. I must say I am a little confused at what exactly you’re getting at with this one. I’ll try and take a stab at it and you can let me know what you think…
    In one sense I agree with you and in another I completely disagree. I agree in that, if our worship consisted of only songs like those mentioned above then we might be lacking or void of balance much in the same way if we sang songs like “God of wrath” by David Crowder all the time we would be completely lacking balance as well. Singing songs that only speak to holiness and justice fails to reveal the loving, compassionate and graceful side of God at times. So Yes we do need balance in our praise so as to acknowledge God in all of His attributes and characteristics.
    Where I would disagree with you or maybe not disagree but issue a caution to you, would be in your critique of songs like the one written by Darrell Evans, “Your Love is Extravagant.” The problem I find with your critique is that you can’t take a song like that one and say that it is lacking. If so we could just take the book of Song of Solomon as well and say that it is void of balance and therefore has no value being in the scriptures. They in fact are a key part of balancing the scriptures. They reveal the personal intimacy that God wants with each of us. He doesn’t just want to know our name; He knows each hair on our head. Darrel Evans never claims to be a theologian; he is an artist that wrote a song after studying through Song of Solomon. He painted a picture in song, taking inspiration from a song wrote long ago.
    Where I do agree with you is in the fact that so many so called Christian artists, rather than taking the time to write out of the overflow of their walk with Christ, they are taking songs that were written by others with a context and meaning to them in a personal way and recreating them trying to make them into an “anthem” of sorts for the pop Christian culture. Artists like M. W. Smith and such who are merely looking for the next big hit rather than writing out of their hearts cry. It is these that need to have balance.

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  4. I think my main point here is to gripe about all the lovey-dovey worship, popular of late. Which is not to say that I think most worship has gone this route. It has gotten to where a lot of worship is indistinguishable from secular love songs. God is not Robert Patrick.

    In saying that, I am not saying we should not sing about God's love. I just think that God's love is not the same as Erotic love--even in Song of Solomon. A lot of "worship" today cheapens the Biblical picture of love.

    Perhaps in a slightly different category, that particular Evans song has always made me uncomfortable because it is so plainly sexual. (Which is how it plays into the "Worship sounds like secular love songs argument.) I do think there is an argument for a worshipful aspect to sex. Spouses can express a Godly love through sex that is an act of worship, I just don't (a) want to see that as a part of corporate worship or (b) want to directly envision my relationship with God as a sexual one.

    As to his artistic expression, Amen. I agree that he is a great artist in the true sense of the word and that his music--this song included can communicate truth. I just disagree that this is a good vehicle for corporate worship services.

    Maybe I should say that sometimes it is not the songs themselves that bother me as much as it is the way they are used.

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  5. Who is Robert Patrick? Do you mean Pattison? Or whoever that guy from Twilight is?

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  6. Oh, yeah. That's who I meant. Robert Patrick is the (much better) actor who played the indestructible robot monster in Terminator 2. That would be a whole other misrepresentation of God.

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