I caught myself ranting and raving (screaming, actually) at a co-worker yesterday over the generally sloppy Southern-Baptist brand Christianity for nearly ten minutes. He plays in the praise band of a Southern-Baptist church east of Tulsa, and he is continually expressing his infatuation with the quality, style, atmosphere, etc. of the music, to the near-total exclusion of lyrical content. I’ll ask him something like “Do you know How Firm a Foundation?“, to which he will reply “Can you hum the tune for me?” Aaarrrggg. A recent article in Modern Reformation on this very subject by Michael Horton begins with ” The average Christian will learn more from hymns than from any systematic theology.” With my buddy’s approach to church music, he is practically illiterate, theologically. That’s what I’m screaming, and yet you very seldom read anything from the Baptist bloggers, from any segment of the spectrum, on this pervasive problem. Obviously there are those in the anti-thinking fundamentalist camp who see no problem at all, but I refer to those young families who are looking for more substance in worship. If you fall in that camp, Horton’s article is a must read. He continues:
The number of 19th century hymns that talk about the objective truth of Scripture, and that which God has done outside of my personal experience, is overwhelmed by the number of hymns that focus on my personal experience. It is my heart, not God and his saving work, that receives top billing.
What to do? First, when you go to worship this next Sunday, do an informal survey and assess which kind of hymn/song/chorus dominates your service. In the mean time, go read the article by Michael Horton, Are Your Hymns Too Spiritual? and see what you think, if you go to the trouble of that sort of thing. Then talk to your music man at church and ask him how he chooses the hymns, and make suggestions of hymns you would love to hear from time to time.
Just some thoughts. Or you can just do nothing and stay stupid.