Real Worship: Part 11: Contextualization; Surrender

Thanks to the Sacred Sandwich

(1Co 9:19-23 ESV) 19 For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. 20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. 21 To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. 23 I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.

Paul explains his missionary strategy: He meets the lost where he finds them. He speaks to them in terms they can understand. He couches the gospel in the cultural context. For example,

(Act 17:22-25 ESV) 22 So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.”

Paul preaches to the philosophers in Athens about the “unknown god” even though the true God is known. But he knows that the altar to an unknown god gives him an opening to explain God in terms his listeners could understand.

The scriptures are filled with God working within then contemporary culture to express himself. He appeared to Abraham as a stranger in need of hospitality. He appeared to Moses in a burning bush. He appeared to the Israelites as a column of smoke and fire. He presents himself in ways that work in the current culture.

When God made a covenant with Abraham, he had Abraham slaughter animals so God could pass through the split carcasses — in the way bedouins of the area made covenants. When God made a covenant with Israel, he wrote Deuteronomy in the form of an ancient, Middle Eastern treaty. When he punished David for his sin with Bathsheba, he allowed Absalom to have sex with his concubines — because that brought great shame to David in that culture.

Just so, the Tabernacle and Temple involved animal sacrifice because that’s how people in those places at those times worshiped deities. I believe he had Abraham and his descendants circumcised to remind them that their sex lives belong to God — because the idolatrous cults of their neighbors involved ritual prostitution. Circumcision would show the prostitutes that this man was breaking his vows to God — and hopefully remind the man of his commitment so he would not shame God in the tent of an Asherah priestess.

Why did Miriam celebrate the crossing of the Red Sea with tambourines? Because God had authorized tambourine worship? No, because that’s how people in that culture celebrated. Why did David dance before the Ark? Because it was authorized? No, because it was how Early Iron Age Israelites rejoiced.

Why were the early Christians repeatedly told to greet one another with the Holy Kiss? Because in that culture, that’s how people who love each other greeted one another.

God, of course, doesn’t accept all of our culture. When culture runs contrary to God’s will, God’s will prevails. But the great missionary Paul teaches us to push far beyond our comfort zones and to give up our freedom and rights in order to win the lost to Jesus. What I want doesn’t matter.

I doubt that Paul wanted to beaten nearly to death, lashed, and shipwrecked, but he suffered those things for the sake of God’s mission. He didn’t get what he wanted, but he did learn to be like Jesus — which to him was a far greater joy.

And yet … we’re not willing to suffer through contemporary Christian music for the sake of the Kingdom. If the songs aren’t 50 years old, we threaten to leave, to withhold our checks, and to make trouble. We are worshiping the wrong god.

Ironic, isn’t it, that the same people insisting that it’s more important that God enjoy the worship than the young people are the ones who think it’s more important that the old members enjoy the music than God. I mean, is God more interested in the nostalgia of his oldest children or the expansion of the boundaries of the Kingdom?

Yes, God loves the old members, too, but he loves them so much he wants them re-shaped into the image of Christ. He wants them transformed. He wants them to put the desires of others above their own. He wants them to show an example of sacrifice and self-emptying — because it is in these things that true joy is found.

So let me argue the case from the ironic angle. Do you want to be happy? Really, really happy? Well, the secret to happiness to stop worrying about your own wants and to lose yourself in the wants of others. Do you doubt me? Then think about your grandchildren. When you have the grandkids, do you eat at McDonalds? Even if you hate McDonalds? Yes, you do, because you find more joy in the smiles of your grandchildren than in your own food preferences.

When you have the grandkids in your home for Christmas, do you play your music or do you play music the children enjoy? Do you read them your favorite books — or theirs? Do you set the room temperature at what the baby prefers or at your own preference?

Of course, you might also take joy in teaching the grandkids to enjoy a little Frank Sinatra, but you don’t force it down their throats. You invite them to join you in sharing an experience you enjoy, hoping they enjoy it, too. And if they don’t, you put the Chipmunks and VeggieTales back on.

You see, love changes what makes you happy. When you love someone, meeting their needs is more delightful than meeting your own. If you love your wife, you’d rather buy her a new dress that she really wants than replace your worn out old suit, because her smile means far more to you than a new suit.

Do you want to be happy at church? There is but one path to happiness, and that is love. Learn to love those young people — really, really love them. Spend time with them. Eat with them. Share stories about how God touched your life with them. And then surrender to them — just as you surrender to your spouse and your grandchildren. There is great joy in surrender. There is none in getting your way.

Should they do the same for you? Yes. But you are the leaders, the mature, the experienced. You are the ones who’ve spent decades in Bible study and prayer. You’re the ones who have to set the example of selflessness. And you aren’t selfless if you demand that the immature reciprocate.

That grandbaby isn’t going to learn to share for quite some time, but you have to share with the grandbaby right now, enjoying his toothless grin. It’ll all work out in the end, but it’ll work out because you’ll stop counting wins and losses and instead revel in the joys of others and the legacy you’re leaving — all those new converts and members who’ve been blessed by your selflessness and who, one day, will mature to the point that they’ll do the same thing for others when it’s their time to be like their Savior.

About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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75 Responses to Real Worship: Part 11: Contextualization; Surrender

  1. Alabama John says:


    It doesn't make you wrong to ask for an old song or two that brings up so many cherished memories out of the 8-10 never heard before being sung.

    All the love and giving to each other should flow both ways. Sometimes that needs to be pointed out to the younger folks too. Respect for elders and I mean age, not position, although both should apply, is not taught enough.

    Grandchildren love a change from fast food to Me Maws biscuits and home cooking and tell her so.

    Lets not get far from correcting. Spare the rod and spoil the child comes to mind. WE old folks cannot become just another fellow playmate of the younger set.

    Neither can the church.

    What I hear most often from the conservatives is their fear this "make everyone happy" will ultimately be the downfall of the church of Christ progressives and they will become something no church of Christ will recognize.

  2. aBasnar says:

    While Paul became everything to everyone (without sin) in his mission work, the churches he planted followed the same practices and guidelines as in any other place.

    Although he argued with the Atheneans from the Greek philosophers, he did not canonize them for reading in church, did he? No, they had to learn the OT writings of the Jews (since NT was not all the way available yet). IN fact all of Pauls letters are full of quotes and allusions to the OT no matter how Gentile the background of the church he addressed was.

    So there is a huge difference between outreach and building up the church. As long as these two get confused – an example is the wrong use of "to preach" for our "teaching" in church we are caught in confusion. theses are two differernt words meaning to different things that are applied in two different contexts: We preach the Gospel of the Kingdom to those outside the church, but we teach the Word of our King to His disciples. You cannot mix these two words as you cannot mix outreach and the edifcation of the church.

    There are in fact THREE cultures we have to deal with:

    1Co 10:32 Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God,

    The Jews differ from the Gentiles (Greeks) a lot, and both differ from the church of God – even more. As long as we don't grasp the distinctive "culture" of the church we will be inclined to presume that Paul just took over Ancient practices and local customs into the church. And that's indeed what you read in so many commentaries:

    Footwashing? Ah, irrelevant, we don't wear sandals anymore!
    Holy Kiss? Bah, humbug – we don't even shake hands today!
    Headcovering? No, because prostitutes today look different!

    Such exegesis constantly misses the point. And even more: It allows us to do what is clearly forbidden: If Paul formed the churches according to the local culture, it becomes imperative to CONFORM to the world instead of separating from it! The result of this theology is upside down from what all churches of Christ believed in their first 200 years. It results in worldly churches.

    Some have still a feeling that something is wrong, but notthe words for it.They dislike the modern CCM songs, without having sound arguments. I tell you what it is: The fruit of a wrong theology; a deep misunderstanding of what the church is and what worship is. An man centeredness clothed in theologiocal terminology. It is – as Alabama John quoted: the downfall of the church of Christ progressives.


  3. guy says:


    You wrote:
    "and yet … we’re not willing to suffer through contemporary Christian music for the sake of the Kingdom."

    This is all a red herring and question-begging. Paul's evangelistic isn't the point. The point is: what is the assembly for? Neither 1Cor 9 nor Acts 17 say that Paul's strategies there are *also* meant to be the function of an assembly. Whether the assembly is *for* evangelism is clearly what's under consideration. This post just takes for granted that the assembly has the same specific purpose as Paul's mission trips did.


  4. Jay Guin says:

    Alabama John,

    There’s a difference between asking for a few favorite hymns and instituting a power struggle over who gets their preferred music. If you ask and then submit to the leaders should they say no, then you have the right attitude. If you ask and then withhold contributions or gather up a group of friends to threaten to leave if you don’t get your way, then you’ve misunderstood the gospel.

  5. aBasnar says:

    It is my inpression that the CCM wing is quite pushy and the leadership of too many churches is to weak. Wold you give the same advice to these young people who "demand" their kind of music?

    After all, it is written that the younger ones should submit the older ones and not vice versa (1Pe 5:5). I get the impression that you urge the older or more conservative ones to let go of their convictions in order to make way for the youth.

    CCM is not neutral, Jay.


  6. aBasnar says:

    You see, love changes what makes you happy. When you love someone, meeting their needs is more delightful than meeting your own. If you love your wife, you’d rather buy her a new dress that she really wants than replace your worn out old suit, because her smile means far more to you than a new suit.

    Yes, that's a good example. I exchanged my broadbrimmed black hat (which my wife dod not like very much) for the acceptance of growing back my beard. I know how such "deals" can feel.

    But imagine the following: My wife does not want just a new dress, but one that is not meeting the standards of 1st Timothy 2:9. She might be begging and weeping – she would not get it. (Thanks to God that my wife appreciates the wisdom of Paul). It is the same with CCM. It is not just a matter of taste, it is also a matter of values and morals.


  7. Jay Guin says:


    I’m not nearly as concerned with the visitors as the immature in the faith, although the visitors are important. The mature submit to the immature in matters of taste for the same reason parents to submit to their children in such matters. The parents are the ones mature enough to deal with an uncomfortable choice of restaurant, music, temperature, etc. The babies get their way.

    As the children mature, we teach them to enjoy adult things, but in the church, there will always be babes in Christ if we are always evangelizing and keeping our own children in the church.

    It’s easy to dismiss this or that argument, but I’m waiting to hear an argument that justifies only singing tunes written before WWII, which is the standard in countless congregations. In my view, such a practice is a case of the older members using their influence and power to “lord it over” the young people, and it’s wrong. It is also foolish, as the young people will recognize the abuse of power for what it is and leave.

    However, a church where the older members are self-sacrificing for the sake of the young will have a very different dynamic — not because they self-sacrifice in order to impress others but because being like Jesus is attractive.

    The key is to in fact have the heart of Jesus and to then take the trouble to think about how to serve those less powerful, less influential, less wealthy than you — not just in church but everywhere.

  8. Jay Guin says:


    “Convictions”? No. Most worship wars are not about convictions but about taste. Even the mainline denominations have the same fights. We just like to doctrinalize our disagreements in order the beat up the other side.

    I take 1 Pet 5:5 to be referring to the elders, not all older members. The ESV, NAS, RSV, and NRSV agree.

    Did something happen around 1945 that ruined all new hymns? Are all older hymns holy and pure and all newer hymns vile and evil? Where does conviction even enter the discussion?

  9. guy says:


    You wrote:
    "I'm not nearly as concerned with the visitors as the immature in the faith"

    That sounds good. But then we're not talking about the 1Cor 14 passage about *un*believers anymore.

    You wrote:
    "but I'm waiting to hear an argument that justifies only singing tunes written before WWII"

    i'm definitely not arguing such, and agree with your assessment here.

    You wrote:
    "the young people will recognize the abuse of power for what it is and leave."

    Yes, but some are also leaving because they see seeker-sensitive-esque approaches for the fraud and manipulation they are.

    My concern here is the notion that the assembly is about *tastes* at all. Serving the less powerful/wealthy? Absolutely. But serving is not equivalent to catering to tastes.

    i agree with Alexander that it's about certain values and the best way to maximize those values, and that some ecclesiological approaches actually select values that are anti-Christian. i'm not convinced though that any one style is bad or any one style is sacred. Once we get into styles, i think we are talking about tastes, which is not the point IMO. Making it the point is the root of so much our troubles. The assembly is not about anyone's favorite flavor of ice cream. Once we start talking in those terms we've degraded it and deluded it's power.


  10. Price says:

    Who changed from liturgical chants to the WWII hymns…those terrible progressives !! It's a shame that our hearts are so hardened that we can't even allow for the tastes of different WORSHIP music…good grief… We won't EVER be able to impact the world when we are so devoted to ourselves and our personal tastes… On a day like today to have these comments is just disgusting….get over yourselves people..It's not about you…you're saved…Jesus came not be served but to serve..You want to be like Jesus or not ?

  11. Price says:

    I wonder if rather than seeing all the choices on the sign out front, we'd rather see the word….CLOSED.

  12. Doug says:

    If a Church can ultimately change peoples lives into the likeness of Christ by the singing of CCM then I say "ROCK ON!!". I say this seriously as I have seen this occur and it is wonderful when a person yeilds their life to Jesus not matter what song is being sung.

    Personally, I'm probably one of very few who frequent this board who have worshiped using the the "old" worship songs and also with CCM as well as with liturgical chant. I have chanted the 22nd Psalm while the alter was stripped on Good Friday and never felt the impact of that Psalm more fully. But, liturgy gave way to Stamps Baxter and now Stamps Baxter is giving way to CCM. Do we always have to thow the baby out with the bath water?

  13. Skip says:

    I take a small issue with one comment of Jay's:

    "Just so, the Tabernacle and Temple involved animal sacrifice because that’s how people in those places at those times worshiped deities. "

    God did not institute animal sacrifices because that's how people in those places worshiped deities. Their is no scriptural basis for this claim. In fact, the opposite is true. The local people used animal sacrifices because that is how God's people did it first. Look in Genesis 8:20. God had wiped all people from the face of the earth with the flood except Noah and his immediate family. Then right after the flood, Noah offers an animal sacrifice. Everyone descended from Noah and his family and thus cultures who sacrificed animals did so because of Noah's pattern. The sacrifice from the beginning was to offer thanks to God and to request God's grace and forgiveness. Ancient cultures simply twisted and distorted the meaning.

  14. Alabama John says:

    I just ask for an old one or two, Fanny Crosby is one I like. Today we sung many modern songs and when two came up there we all know, several folks looked at me and smiled. Truthfully, there were more singing too.

    Dwayne, have you asked politely if they would consider singing one or two Cowboy Gospel Songs just to accommodate the old folks or you in your worship.
    If the right attitude is in the song leaders, they will do so.
    Having the right attitude goes both ways.

  15. aBasnar says:

    It is too about conviction – at least with some. I highly recommend Dan Lucarini's Book "Why I left the Contemprary Christian Music Scene".

    My German Bible has "older ones" in 1Pe 5:5 which I think is more fitting, because to the elders the whole church has to submit not only the younger ones. But that's a minor aspect here.

    CCM follows a musical style that has its roots in the rebellious 1960s and wht developed from there as pop and rock music. The music style with its focus on strong rhythm, disharmonic sounds, sometimes even screaming instead of singing is unseperable from the message it was to convey.

    The impact modern music has is also linked to modern media as radio, CDs, videos – it became a worldwide leading youth culture that changed life and morals of society dramatically – not to the better. All who shaped that style of music had an anti-Christian attitude (Beatles, Stones, Doors, Jimi Hendrix … ).

    Now, the situation may be different in 200 years from now. But since thesam culture is still around, the message ofthe world is still linked to its musical language – therefore CCM is not neutral. It conveys a message beneath the Christian words that is anti-Christian. The message is:

    "Hey, we play the same music as you like to hear! Hey, we appreciate your culture and values (!), it's cool! We are not that different, you know; and – don't be afraid – you don't have to change all that much when you become a Christian."

    The message is conformity to the world instead of separation! I'll keep it that short and to the point – CCM is not neutral, and I do have convictions. it's not only about taste.


  16. aBasnar says:

    That's a good comment, Skip – and here lies one of the root problems of "progressive theology". They try to justify conforming to the world around them by trying to show that that was done in Biblical times as well under God's approval. This makes an upside down ecclesiology. Separation is a term hardly heard or preached about in this background. Separation gave way to "contextualization – conformity". It's a dangerous wrong track, because those who befriend with the world are called enemies of God (Jas 4:4). I certainly don't want to become such one, so I strive to be as critical to the world around me as necessary. Just like Abraham, I'd rather live in a tent than in the gates of Sodom as Lot did.


  17. aBasnar says:

    Which boils down to:
    Unless we become like the world, we'll close – do I get you right, Price?


  18. Alabama John says:


    I understand.

    Can you imagine a praise team singing one of my favorites "Who'll pray for me when mama's gone"?

  19. Mike Long says:

    As a pastor/worship leader with an undergrad in music education, I know that these conversations/battles have been going on for centuries.
    Anything that had a melodic skip of more than a minor third. (As plainsong developed)
    Anything that wasn't unison. (When harmonies started to infiltrate worship)
    Bach was considered to radical.
    The pipe organ is just a cheap substitute for a "real orchestra."
    It is blasphemous to use common tunes for worship. (against Luther, Wesley, and others)
    Cheap emotionalism (against Fanny Crosby and other revivalist writers)

    My overwhelming sense is that in defense of the way we've always done it, we like to refer to new styles of worship as a sorry substitute for "real" worship. a.k.a. "The way I like it."

    I was fortunate to grow up in a home where there was a wide variety of music, a gift I passed on to my children. Of my four kids, three of them are worship leaders in their home churches, and they all use a wide variety of styles to communicate the gospel to, and lead the worship for, to a wide variety of people.

  20. Adam says:

    Why will no one comment on Jay's main point – that the most mature should be the ones willing to sacrifice the most – just like Jesus?

    Of course the guides a abasner, Alabama John, Guy, etc are relevant (is it of Christ), but, assuming it is of Christ, can we not agree that Jay's perpective is correct – those who are closest to Christ submit the most on matters of taste?

    Naturally, the conversation, then, is "What are the matters of taste?", and that is an important conversation. But can we not agree on Jay's basic point?

    To be like Christ is to be sacrificial towards the other through the love of the Spirit.

  21. aBasnar says:

    Take a look at the following web-site for instance: Look at it, and ask yourself: Is the call to be separate from the world just a call for a different "state of mind" or also for a different style of life, a different appearance, a different approach to things?

    Yes, there have always been controversies in the past. We might say that's OK, that's normal, that's the way things are. But look at it from a different angle: If the motive was also back then: We have to be more like the world, it was equally wrong.

    After a few decades or even centuries, when a certain style becomes disconnected from the values or ideologies that shaped them, THEN this style becomes "neutral". As long as the ideology still is around and using the samy styles and methods it developed and shaped, these styles are NOT "neutral". CCM uses a musical style that is directly linked and associated with a life-style that is unfitting for Christians.#

    Please – all of you – explain to me what these verses mean:

    1Jn 2:15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
    1Jn 2:16 For all that is in the world–the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions–is not from the Father but is from the world.
    1Jn 2:17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

    Again this website: What is their motive to look like the world, act like the world, sound like the world, promote themselves like the world, put themselves in in scene like the world?

    Oh, we just found a sneaky way to please and nourish our flesh!


  22. aBasnar says:

    Or look at this picture:… and read 1Co 11:3-4

    This is something I saw quite often. The desire to look "cool" makes this artists ignore the Word of God and dishonor Christ. Their inner need to look like the world makes them a bad example. And our youth imitates them. The lad who is on stage in the worship team tries to look like MW Smith, the one handling the sound system leaves his baseball cap on during worship – backwords of course. The sister singing into the microphone does so with too tight jeans, bare shoulders and showing her navel. Why? Because that#s how her favorite CCM star performs. And why does this CCM star look this way? Because she wants to look like the world.

    Is it all right for Christians to send the same sensual message as the world? Look at this picture: and then read 1Ti 2:9-10. Is modesty and shamefacedness even an issue today? Something we should consider or even preach about?

    I fear, most of you won't see how serious all of this is.


  23. Price says:

    I came eating and drinking and "they" (religiously pious leaders) called me a drunkard and a glutton… Seems Jesus went out into the world to speak to the needs of the spiritually sick and left the white-washed tombs to sing their songs and pray their prayers… He, the One who created the universe, got down on his knees and washed the feet of men…but, we want to fight over which song is sung in church because of our personal preferences… I find it totally disgusting…So who do you want to be like? I guess it's a personal decision.

  24. Price says:

    Mike, you're exactly right … the people who call others "progressive" today are the ones who were called progressive yesterday… Same dog, different fleas…It's all just a bunch of name calling and divisive speak by selfish and self-serving men.

  25. aBasnar says:

    OK, Price, please explain to me wht these words mean:

    1Jn 2:15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
    1Jn 2:16 For all that is in the world–the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions–is not from the Father but is from the world.
    1Jn 2:17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

    Jas 4:4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

    1Pe 4:3 For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry.
    1Pe 4:4 With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you;
    1Pe 4:5 but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.

    Rom 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

    Joh 17:16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.
    Joh 17:17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.

    What is the meaning and application of these verses, Price?
    And how are the examples I gave in my last two posts fitting to the requirements of these words from Jesus, Paul, Peter, John and James?


  26. Adam says:


    2 things:

    First, can you agree with Jay's actual point in the post – that the most mature should be the ones who are most sacrificial.

    Second. You point of looking like the world is, of course, valid, and not a lot of Christians would argue with that. However, the flip side is just as true – that we intentionally look "not like the world", and then confuse simple not looking like the world as looking like Christ.

    I'm with you on not looking like the world – I try really, really hard to understand what that means. But simply because I don't have television (which I don't) doesn't mean I am being like Christ. Just because my life looks very, very different from the world doesn't mean it is like Christ.

    And it is there, I think, that Jay's insight begins to take shape – it isn't about not looking like the world (though that is necessary and important), it is in being conformed to the nature of Christ – exhibited through sacrifice.

  27. Alabama John says:


    I agree that the most mature should be the most sacrificial.
    Time never goes back, only forward and we must too. Time with any loved one, whether of the earth or beyond creates a comfort in an understanding that is "unexplainable".
    You want everyone to have that.

  28. guy says:

    Alexander wrote:
    After a few decades or even centuries, when a certain style becomes disconnected from the values or ideologies that shaped them, THEN this style becomes "neutral."

    While i don't agree with the conclusions being drawn from it, i actually find that this statement rings historically true intuitively. A lot of kids that come in to the guitar studio where i teach wanna learn Ozzy Osbourne and other such 80's rock–and are actually encouraged by their parents to do so. In my experience, such music was taboo when it came out. And i think Jazz generally went through the same thing. Lots of classical music pieces were though of as evil and even caused riots when they premiered.

    But if you take these historical facts seriously, they argue more for cultural relativism than for any sacred set of styles or practices.


  29. Ted says:

    There's a great little book out there called "Who Stole My Church?" It's worth reading on subjects such as this.

  30. aBasnar says:

    Both and (regarding your last sentence). But I answered to Jay, and it is not that I would agree in general, but dependent on the subject. I referred to one of his examples like this:

    You see, love changes what makes you happy. When you love someone, meeting their needs is more delightful than meeting your own. If you love your wife, you’d rather buy her a new dress that she really wants than replace your worn out old suit, because her smile means far more to you than a new suit.

    Yes, that's a good example. I exchanged my broadbrimmed black hat (which my wife dod not like very much) for the acceptance of growing back my beard. I know how such "deals" can feel.

    But imagine the following: My wife does not want just a new dress, but one that is not meeting the standards of 1st Timothy 2:9. She might be begging and weeping – she would not get it. (Thanks to God that my wife appreciates the wisdom of Paul). It is the same with CCM. It is not just a matter of taste, it is also a matter of values and morals.


  31. aBasnar says:

    Alexander…you're putting a bushel on your light if you can't get out into the world and be light…For heaven's sake man

    I DO go out in order to be a light. I do GO OUT. But I don't bring darkeness IN. Inside/Outside – a simple and clear principle – the church is missional not attractional (in reference to a different topic on this blog).

    And that's what Jesus did: He went OUT,
    And that's what He did with His apostles: He send them OUT.

    But those who are wone forthe Kingdom are trained to conform to the Kingdom and not to the world.


  32. aBasnar says:

    I read this one, and I very much disliked the way Gordon Mac Donald reasoned in it. It is a good example for what a change agent is, and a good example how they play with fears and misrepresent the true issues at stake. It's worth writing a book to answer his approach …


  33. aBasnar says:

    We are warned that wolves will come in sheep-clothes … shall we, sent as lanmbs to the wolves – dress up in wolves clothes? The outward appearance must be in harmony with the message.

    Christ sent his disciples out with a staff and one pair of sandals – He did not say: "Conextualize"

    And even if we become Gemtiles to the Gentiles – this works fine! – Christians rarely become Jews to the Jews or Muslims to the Muslims. That's strange isn't it?

    And still: This wuld be called mission work – but the church is different.
    When we become Gentiles to the Gentiles, we still would not "paganize" the church.
    When we become Jews to the Jews we also would not "Judaize" the church.

    What you folks simply don't get is WHY the Scriptures again and again warn us NOT to become worldl, not to use worldly methods, not to mix idolatry into our worship. And here we go: Worship leaders participate in "Americanm Idol" UNBELIEVABLE!

    You dress like the world – the same sensual and immoral fashion
    You make the same music like the world – the same sensual, rhythmic and artificially distorted sounds made for exstatic dance and to accompany immorality
    You move the same way on stage as the secular performers
    You make charts and merchandizting like the world
    You have your "Christian Idols" and put posters on the walls of our rooms

    I see NO difference … So what does 1Jo 2:15-17 mean? NO ONE so far answered to the Scriptures I posted (and there are many more) – tell me: are they irrelevant?


  34. guy says:


    i take 1John 2 to be referencing worldly impulses/character traits–lust and pride. You seem to equate it solely with customary practices or decor, and take that as either equivalent to or a manifestation of lust and pride. Isn't wearing a beard part of some worldly customary practice? Isn't a black-brimmed hat part of some worldly customary decor? If CCM's all started wearing beards, does that mean you're obligated to shave yours? When i went to seminary, there were people who genuinely believed that wearing a beard was a bad idea on moral grounds because of matters of image. Are they right? If not, why not?


  35. aBasnar says:

    read again, Guy:

    Not, what is inside our hearts or what is inside the characters,
    but what is in the world:

    The lust of the eyes – what can be seen

    This is not what is in the heart, but what is before our eyes (and ears, if we thibk a little further). What can be seen and heard!
    Let's be a little more specific: Commercials work through the lust of the eyes. We see bill-boards along the highways that tell us, how we are to live. TV is urging us to conform to values that are not recommended in the scriptures. Fashion (the dresses) are designbed in a way to make us lust after women. And CCM stars dress exactly the same way, don't they? And the sisters in our church are driven by the force of an immodest culture, aren't they? Or cars: Why do we drive SUVs or 4wheel drive in a city? Or why do we watch Super Bowl and cheer for one team while wishing ill to the other one? You can add many more examples … And whether we work, shop or drive our cars, we listen to the radio with its brainwashing beats. Oh, and then we need to have this drug in our churches as well.

    The lust of the flesh – what is desirable

    This is a step further, isn't it. First you see it, then you know it will please you. It will please you to be looked after, to have this car, to live this way, to enjoy these goodies … to listen to this kind of music, to dance to it, because it is sensual and provokes certain feelings …

    The pride (not only of posessions as in the ESV) of life – what gives prestige

    And this makes you "independent" of God, because you found your freedom in these things (or on Blueberry Hill), your meaning, your place in society, … And you will become a person others will imitate. First you are the imtator, then you are the (bad) example, an authority in wickedness.

    Of course it also has to do with the character, but it cannot be reduced to the inner aspects. What is inside of us is revealed by the way we act, speak, dress and … make music.

    If the world does things that are right, of course we need not act contrary to the world just for the sake of being different. Of course men should wear beards, because God made us this way, he even gave a Law concerning beards (Lev 19:27) – not that we are under the Law, but for what reason should we shave them off? Do you think that was on God's mind when He created us this way? but let's not open another topic here … you asked, i answered.

    It is a very dangerous thing to reduce worldlness to the inner aspects and ignore the outward forms that go with that. The Apostles were clear about:

    modest Lifestyle
    the way we speak, eat and drink

    Of course you can live holy and be proud of it. the pharisees did that. But that does not mean that – in order not to become a hypocrit – we can live in an unholy way. If that's the rationale: "Better be unholy and honest than dishonestly holy", we don't know the Lord.

    When I look and listen to CCM, I see and hear worldlyness. I don't care about the attitude and the words they use, because their appearance contradicts every sillable of their spiritual songs. It's not in harmony with God's word.

    The message CCM promotes: Just change the words, the rest of your life may stay as it is.


    Gal 5:24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

    Still all is being justified, because it's all about the heart, isn't it? But that's Gnostic thinking, not Biblical thinking. I'm terrified that so few see this, so few! And so many in fact follow the broad way that leads to destruction. Is this so weird, what I write? Am I from another planet? Do I read a different Bible than you? I'm desperate – and on guard; Because I don't want these things creep into our congregation even though the overwhelming majority of Christendom chose to "contextualize" (I checked in my concordance: This word is not in the Bible).


  36. aBasnar says:

    Two serios voices from the past:

    [youtube J4jdddDAe1g&feature=related youtube]

    [youtube d0KpsngInBY&feature=related youtube]

  37. aBasnar says:

    [youtube 1QfOigTMq-k&feature=related youtube]
    (the second voice)

  38. guy says:

    P.S. There are characters, hearts, and impulses *in the world* insomuch as the phrase "in the world" includes people. This is, i suppose, also a matter of how you define that phrase as well.

  39. Doug says:

    Alexander, you said "You make the same music like the world – the same sensual, rhythmic and artificially distorted sounds made for exstatic dance and to accompany immorality" but I quoted the words that I heard on the CCM internet site that you said exemplified the worldliness of CCM. Did those words sound like the world to you? I don't know what to say to you about the rhythmic and artifically distorted sounds and whether they are designed to accompany immorality. Mankind has been making music for as long as he discovered how to beat two sticks together. I view Mankinds love of music music as God given but you must see it as Satan given. I only know that I am not driven to to immorality everytime I hear a drumset being played or when I hear a effects driven electric guitar. Your statements are too encompassing and driven by your personal beliefs for me to take seriously as instruction for all Christians.

  40. Jay Guin says:


    Thanks. I fail to see why we should laud music derived from northern Europe and England but not music taken from Africa. You see, the biggest change between pre- and post-WWII music is the African influence. From the Wikipedia on African-American Culture —

    Aided by the technological innovations of radio and phonograph records, ragtime, jazz, blues, and swing also became popular overseas, and the 1920s became known as the Jazz Age. The early 20th century also saw the creation of the first African American Broadway shows, films such as King Vidor’s Hallelujah!, and operas such as George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess. Rock and roll, doo wop, soul, and R&B developed in the mid-20th century. These genres became very popular in white audiences and were influences for other genres such as surf.

    You’ll notice the nearly total absence of jazz music styles from our hymnals, as well as rock, soul, R&B, etc. Indeed, one of the greatest contributions of African-Americans to music is called gospel — because it’s a musical style taken from the African-American church. When is the last time your heard a gospel-influenced hymn in a white Church of Christ?

    In my experience, the only distinctively African-American music in the hymnals are the “spirituals,” largely originating from the days of slavery.

    I don’t think anyone is selecting musical styles out of conscious racism, but I do think we are often horribly insensitive to the musical tastes of our black members — as well as many other members who love more contemporary musical styles.

  41. aBasnar says:

    Mat 26:30 And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

  42. aBasnar says:

    Wel, Dpoug, I said it is not about the words only. But since you ask: No I did not dig into the lyrics, but one word popped up to me: "Celebrate". There is the sonmg "Celebrate Jesus, celebrate (clap-clap)" I have a hard time with this new definition of worship as a party.

    The music style, the atmosphere that is created is too much like a worldly party with immodest dancing and what follows after that. Let me give you an example from a different context: Christmas songs in school. When i was a kid, we still had a "traditiona" Christams celebration in school and sang or learned our traditional carols. My children today learn "We're gonna have a party tonight – I'm gonna find my girl underneath the mistle toe …" Asidethe fact that my 10year-old boy actually shudders at the thought of of ever kissing a girl – there is no room fr Christ anymore, and our kids get entrenched with a lust for parties and sex at a very young age which is inseperable from the kind of muic that accompanies them.

    So when we "celebrate Jesus", we copy this music style and bring this party-feeling into the church. I dare to say: It serves one major purpose: To plase and nourish our flesh. Why? Because people DEMAND to have in church what they are used to from the WORLD. That's why these "worship wars" go on and on.

    I left the Evangelical circles to a large degree because ofthese musical development. I fled from CCM and warn against CCM, because it is immoral in its musical roots.

    That's why I insist: Music is not neutral. It conveys a message of its own. And not all music is suitable for worship and congregational singing.


  43. aBasnar says:

    This music serves its purpose, doesn't it? Where was it commonly played? In the churches or in bars? On stages of the world or in the sanctuary? Yes, the world has its way to mix to blend and to develop musical styles. And usually this goes hand in hand with a world view or ideology. No, Jay, music is not neutral.

    It's not only the words that convey the message, but also the packaging, the music, the appearance. Look at this cover from a CCM magazine:… – what's the meassage the facial expression conveys? The love of Christ? Modesty? Holyness? … or rebellion?


  44. aBasnar says:

    Aside of that: When we talk about CCM we should look at where that started, not at the orinigs of Afro-American Music (which has its place in churches with at least some Afro American members). Wikipedia tells this, and I'll highlight some words that make me define this as worldly:

    The genre that would eventually be known as Contemporary Christian music, officially[citation needed] came from the Jesus movement revival of the latter 1960s and early 1970s, and was originally called "Jesus music". "About that time, many young people from the sixties' counterculture professed to believe in Jesus. Convinced of the bareness of a lifestyle based on drugs, free sex, and radical politics, 'hippies' became 'Jesus people'".[5] Of course there were people who felt like Jesus was another "trip".[6] It can be assumed (NOTE: Why assumed?) that many people took it seriously and revivals sprang forth.[original research?] When such awakenings happened new music became popular. "The 'Jesus Movement' of the 1970s was when things really started changing and Christian music began to become an industry within itself."[7] "Jesus Music" started by playing instruments and singing songs about love and peace, which then translated into love of God. Paul Wohlegemuth, who wrote the book Rethinking the Church said, "[the] 1970s will see a marked acceptance of rock-influenced music in all levels of church music. The rock style will become more familiar to all people, its rhythmic excesses will become refined, and its earlier secular associations will be less remembered."[8]

    Though there were Christian albums in the 1960s that contained contemporary-sounding songs, there were two albums recorded in 1969 that are considered[by whom?] to be the first complete albums of "Jesus rock": Upon This Rock (1969) by Larry Norman initially released on Capitol Records, and Mylon – We Believe by Mylon LeFevre, released by Cotillion, which was LeFevre's attempt at blending gospel music with Southern Rock.[9] Unlike traditional or southern gospel music, this new Jesus music was birthed out of rock and folk music.[10]

    Pioneers of this movement also included 2nd Chapter of Acts, Andraé Crouch and the Disciples, Evie, Nancy Honeytree, The Imperials, Love Song, Barry McGuire, and Petra. The small Jesus music culture had expanded into a multi-million-dollar industry by the 1980s. Many CCM artists such as Amy Grant, DC Talk, Michael W. Smith, Stryper, and Jars of Clay found crossover success with Top 40 mainstream radio play. As of 2005[update], sales of Christian music exceeded those for classical, jazz, Latin, New Age, and soundtrack music.[11]

    Then we have charts, magzines, posters, stars and the mimicking of these stars. AS IN THE WORLD. Jay, why do you and others fail to see the spirit of all of this? And the results?

    John Blanchards wrote a forward to Dan Lucarini's book "Why I left the CCM movement", which – again – I highly recommend

    Music has often been a "hot potato" in the life of the Christian church, and the subject may never have been more controversial than during the past fifty years.

    At one end of the spectrum, there are those who tell us that the only words that should be sung in the church are those forming the Old Testament Psalms — and that they should be sung without any musical accompaniment. At the other end, there are those who say that any kind of music — rock, pop, jazz, punk, country and western, rap, or whatever 'turns people on' is perfectly legitimate for use in worship and evangelism.

    Dan Lucarini never approached the first of these extremes, but he came within touching distance of the second, and it is from his deeply involved experience of the modern music scene, secular and otherwise, that this book is written.

    The author's honest sharing of his own spiritual and musical journey prepares the way for his assessment of what he sees to be a major problem in today's church — and makes it more difficult to deny that he in on to something.

    This book will undoubtedly raise many hackles, but Lucarini's direct and uncompromising style is harnessed to a gracious spirit concerned with nothing else but God's glory. This is nowhere more evident than in his warm and wise treatment of the subject of worship and ministry.

    John Calvin once wrote, "We know by experience that music has a secret and almost incredible power to move hearts." The reformer was right — and we should therefore give its use in the life of the church serious and God-centered attention. I pray that this book will help us to do so.

    John Blanchard


  45. aBasnar says:

    Another more specific example.

    I think you are familiar with "Be Thou my Vision", and old Irish Hymn. One "wing" (so to say) in CCM is "Celtic Worship", and from my personal taste I'd be inclined to like that.

    But let's examine this a bit. An old Hymn becomes suddenly "popular" because it is rearranged with Uillean Pipes and Clarsach, and a Synthesizer played in the Style of Enya. Why that? Because it's the style and not the Hymn. And then we like this, because that's what we like to listen to in the world as well. It is "our" music.


  46. aBasnar says:

    … Now, this is "Folk Music" and a lot more "innocent" than contemporary Pop-Music. But even then we cannot say: Irish Folk is totally acceptable for worship. Why not? Take reels and jigs for instance, these are rhythmic and made for dancing, but not for worship. Even if you put words to it (which is quite a challenge for singng, but possible). A Ceili (or Ceilidh) is a fine thing, but church is not a Ceili. Or take the nonsensical Mouthmusic "Didlledi-aidle-diddledi-dum", which is part of Irish Folk Music and fitting in its context – but unless it is translated, "speaking in tongues" is unprofitable. So this does not belong in church either.

    So, where do I get here? Irish Folk as a culture is not alle the way suitable for worship; there are songs and melodies ("Morning has broken also comes to my mind", or tunes like the Welsh "Hyfridol") that are fitting, but reels and jigs and diddledidumming isn't.

  47. aBasnar says:

    … On a second level: We should focus on singing, not on creating a secular concert atmosphere – I don't speak of a-cappella only here. But when the focus are Uilllean Pipes, Clarsach and Enya-Style Synthesizers, we look into the wrong direction. We focus on pleasing a specific musical taste.

    Back to CCM: Not all mdern songs are bad per se. "El Shaddai" by Michael Card is one I like very much for instance. But many songs follow rhythmic or harmonic patterns that are suitable for stages of the world or the charts, but not for congregational singing. "Awesome God" by Rich Mulins is an example. the verses are not suitable for congregational singing, not only rhythmically, but also the language lacks reverence. The chorus is fine, but in itself a bit "thin".

    And: If we start putting a band on stage in order to create that beat and the vibrations of the basses, we focus on our flesh.

    And furthermore: The industry around CCM, the focus on how much money one can make or how famous one can get, is not in the least in line with the Kingdom Values.


  48. guy says:

    i'm still at a loss.

    What of classical music? Is classical music acceptable–despite the fact that some scores were thought to be worldly and sensual and evil when they premiered?

    i actually agree that there seems to be some sketchy things about CCM (for instance, fame and stardom being a component of what some CCM-artists claim is their ministry), but not that those sketchy things are inseparable from styles.

    If the whole world wrote tame-rhythmed music, does that mean the church should be using rock and roll? i don't see how the styles being spotlighted themselves necessitate accompanied worldliness. In fact, i don't see how aesthetics in general can have the degree of fixed value being claimed here. For any such claim, it seems there are obvious cultural counter-examples.


  49. aBasnar says:

    Some is some isn't. Handels Messiah is – fotthe most part – stage music for trained singers; but Handel wrote e.g. "Daughter Zion" which is suitable for congregational singing.

    That's one aspect. Another is: If we start putting a symphonic orchestra into the church in order to recreate the sound of a secular concert hall in our worship, we miss the point the same way as when we put a Rock-Band on Stage in our church.

    It's not only the style (contemporary or classic) but also the presentation, the context the setting that matter. As I tried to explain abopve with Celtic Music – there are tunes and styles in every culture and generation that are acceptable; but even if we take a tune from the secular culture around us, it does not mean that we can take everything that is part of this culture. We have to discern what is clean and unclean.

    Now for CCM. I showed examples that are improper. The main point is, everything is done in a way in order to resemble the secular pop-music scene. And the best proof for this is the acceptance they get. Amy Grant was invited to do a secular Pop Song (Baby Baby) and worship leaders win "American Idol" (I'll repeat that till it sinks in!). But if the world acceopts and loves us, something is very fishy …

    This does not mean tht there are no songs composed today that are goo for worship. But it does mean, that we shall not create a worldly stage-atmosphere when worshipping, nor does it mean, that other songs from the same composer could be used in worship as well. Michael Card wrote many songs – and I dop like most of them – BUT only a few of them are (a) composed for worship and (b) suitable for congregational singing. The best test is: Could it be sung a-cappella, too? If a sonmg cannot be sung without a band accompanying it, it is – at least in most cases – unfitting for worship.


  50. aBasnar says:

    Abother one: On Worship Leaders in American Idol – Read this euphoric article for instance:

    Oh, and then watch this one – think aboutthe devikl on the show, the questions and answers:

    [youtube dPDeef8lBZY youtube]

    Is there anything in there that could make you rethink this whole approach a little?


  51. aBasnar says:

    OK, one last one to chew on, by Paul Washer can be seen there:

  52. Adam says:

    Being a broken record here – but two points.

    Since no one has refuted Jay's main point, I assume we are all in agreement that the most mature are the ones who are the most sacrificial.

    Second, to aBasner again, you are providing many true and appropriate examples of where the church gets it wrong. I've personally seen and experienced this failure in many churches and many worship assemblies. But just because some do it wrong does not mean that the practice in itself is wrong.

    I guess I am saying that if we really believe that Jesus sanctifies us, that the process of sanctification is a divine act carried out through the Spirit, then we need to be open to the possibility that he can sanctify all aspects of us, and through the process continue to conform us as a body to his image.

    I've seen worship leaders who look contempory who are doing nothing more than giving a performance. It is a shallow, empty, selfish endeavor. I've also seen worship leaders in suits and ties leading ancient hymns who are doing nothing more than giving a performance. It is a shallow, empty, selfish endeavor.

    As members of the kingdom, can we not look beyond the externals towards the heart – the Spirit that unites are true worship and worshippers together?

    I'm a young, ears pierced, tattoo's covered, Samba wearing intellectual. I attend a church with as traditional a worship environment as you could imagine (old hymns, suits and ties, etc), but I love it – not because it is the music or style that I like, but because underneath the surface, the heart is one of worship and praise towards our savior.

    I was shocked to find that spirit in the church where I attend – but there it is. It isn't the style I like, It isn't the songs I prefer. But since it is full of the power of Christ that draws us towards him and each other, it is the thing that I seek most in a worship environment.

  53. aBasnar says:

    I guess I am saying that if we really believe that Jesus sanctifies us, that the process of sanctification is a divine act carried out through the Spirit, then we need to be open to the possibility that he can sanctify all aspects of us, and through the process continue to conform us as a body to his image.

    If – on the other hand – our sactification is CO-dependent on our willingness and obediende, on discernment and sacrificial self denial, then we should realize, that crucifyoing our flesh is part of this. I believe a worshipstyle that imitates flesh-pleasing features of the world is therefore most likely not the road to sanctification.

    I see the results I posted (and they were easy to find) as inherent to the system. The fact that some can handle it quite well, does not help those who are misled by this.


  54. wjcsydney says:

    Alexander, what do you mean by "a worshipstyle that imitates flesh-pleasing features of the world".? Harmonious music is "flesh-pleasing. Enthusiastic praise singing is "flesh-pleasing". I have a physical reaction of delight when worship is good. That is NOT a bad thing. God created us as physical beings.

    Please could you elaborate because I am missing what you are meaning.

  55. aBasnar says:

    Oh, I think I have written abundantly on this question above …

    But, in short: I did not reduce it on music, I spoke of "flesh pleasing features</em". Another example: On you tube there is a video of a young musical talent, and someone dreamed: Will she once be on Americal Idol or become a Worship Leader?

    This is an example that worship leaders are likened to Pop stars. so what are the flesh pleasing features here? Becoming famous, a celibrity, rich? Something like that. Charts of worship music, posters in the wall, glossy magazines … and an outward appearance that cannot be distinguished from the appearance of a rebellious and wicked generation. By this I mean, frowning into the camera (an on the one CCM cover I gave a link to), dressing immodestly and sensual, men wearing long hair (not all ofthem, of course), piercing and tattoos, marketing and presentation.

    Now the worshipstyle imitates a concert atmosphere, with a stage, a band, the same rythms, movements and sound effects. Of course this does vary from church to church. But I don't want to point to a church where it is still somewaht "OK" or "tolerable", but in general: Why don't you serve wine in communion? Because there are some who cannot handle alcohol, I presume. But there are many more who cannot handle pop music and its influences, still we serve CCM. Watch again this video of the Worship Leader in Americal Idol! What is your opinion about this example?

    And there is this command: Don' be conformed to this world (Rom 12:1) – If this is not conformity to the world …


  56. aBasnar says:

    Maybe, you'd like to watch this, too. Not to blame the young artist, seriously. But do you see what is driving the church today?

    First goal: Americal Idol – or (at least) worship Leader. Give me the world AND the Kingdom?

    Please, please WAKE UP!

  57. wjcsydney says:

    Im still not getting it. What is wrong with "with a stage, a band, the same rythms, movements and sound effects"? What is they are used to glorify God in a Godly way? CCM is certainly not all "pop music". Very little of it is actually "pop".

    ONE example of a worship leader (I haven't watched the video) whose priorities might be skewed does not mean that ALL worship leaders are fame-orientated. Ours are certainly NOT.

    What other elements besides music are you referring to?

  58. aBasnar says:

    What's wrong ith the world, Wendy?
    Don't you get it?
    What's the big fuss about separation in the NT and the OT?
    Don't you get it?


  59. Jay Guin says:

    Alexander wrote,

    There is the song “Celebrate Jesus, celebrate (clap-clap)” I have a hard time with this new definition of worship as a party.

    Jeremiah writes of the Kingdom that was to come with the Messiah —

    (Jer 30:18-19 ESV) 18 “Thus says the LORD: Behold, I will restore the fortunes of the tents of Jacob and have compassion on his dwellings; the city shall be rebuilt on its mound, and the palace shall stand where it used to be.  19 Out of them shall come songs of thanksgiving, and the voices of those who celebrate. I will multiply them, and they shall not be few; I will make them honored, and they shall not be small.”

    The Passover, one which the Lord’s Supper is patterned, was to be a celebration —

    (Eze 45:21 ESV) 21 “In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, you shall celebrate the Feast of the Passover, and for seven days unleavened bread shall be eaten.

    The proper response to the Lord’s grace is celebration, according to Jesus —

    (Luk 15:23-24; 31-32  ESV)  23 And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate.  24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.' And they began to celebrate. … 31 And he said to him, 'Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours.  32 It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.'”

    God’s salvation is to be celebrated. Indeed, Jesus describes the Father as throwing a party for the son who was restored.In speaking of congregational life and the need to disfellowship a member engaged in flagrant sexual sin, Paul refers back to the Passover celebration, which included cleansing the house of leaven before the meal —

    (1Co 5:7-8 ESV)  7 Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.  8 Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.  

    To “celebrate the festival” is an allusion to Jesus as Passover lamb — the very thing we remember during Communion. And yet, even though Paul refers to the tragic sacrifice of Jesus, he speaks in terms of “celebration.”The Greek means to “celebrate a feast.” In the context of “our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed,” it’s hard to miss an allusion to the Lord’s Supper and, hence, to the assembly, which fits with —

    (1Co 5:4-5 ESV) 4 When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus,  5 you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.

    In short, Paul calls the church, when it is assembled, to prepare for the Lord’s Supper just as the Jews prepared for the Passover, by removing the leaven from the house — the “leaven” being the rebellious, knowing sin of incest by a member.And in this context, as solemn as it surely had to be, Paul refers to the Lord’s Supper using the language of “festival” and celebration borrowed from the OT’s description of the Passover.Before we can celebrate the deliverance given by God, we must first prepare, and preparation requires the removal of leaven — not all sinners (which would be everyone), but those who are living in the kind of rebellion against God’s will that threatens to damn their souls. But the unmistakable foundation for Paul’s argument is, “Let us therefore celebrate the festival.”

  60. Jay Guin says:

    Alexander,Regarding CCM as a “multi-million dollar industry”The printing of Bibles is a multi-million dollar industry.The publishing of Bible commentaries is a multi-million dollar industry.Christian periodicals, books, Sunday school literature … all are multi-million dollar industries.The fact that the sale of CCM records is a multi-million dollar industry no more makes CCM-influenced worship worldly than the fact that the sale of modest clothing is a multi-million dollar industry makes wearing modest clothes to church worldly.The best-selling book in the world is the Bible. Sales do not demonstrate sinfulness.Regarding the  alleged worldliness of the CCM industryThere’s a huge difference between the CCM industry and worshiping to contemporary music. If we sing a song by a Calvinist, have we endorsed Calvinism? If we sing a song written by an anti-Semite (such as Martin Luther), have we endorsed his bigotry?

  61. wjcsydney says:

    Alexander, what is your problem with the video? We are not supposed to get excited about God? Christians cannot minister IN the world? American Idol and Australian Idol have given many Christians the opportunity to reach secular audiences with Christian messages and there have been some amazing role models produced whom non-Christians look up to. We have to minister IN the world if we are going to have any effect ON the world. No, I don't get your objections.

  62. aBasnar says:

    Let me explain it – but in fact I think there is a huge difference in our paradigms.

    When i became a Christian in 1987 in a typical evangelical church of Mennonite background in Vienna, sometimes there was a performance of "special music". We had a good singer back then, a very good piano player. What was a ne and grand experience for me: The church did NOT applaud afterwards, because they felt this would give glory to men instead of God. I think this was a rather common conviction among the churches I knew back then. After having given it some thought, it made sense to me. And I still don't applaud in church. But today I notize that sometinmes even after sermon the church gives the paster "a hand". And they applaud in worship, too. So something has changed.

    Back to the video: Did you listen to the audience? Did you read the "perspecticve" for the young girl? Was it about glorifying God or about fame in the world?

    Maybe you'd answer: "Both and." But can you have both?
    Or you'd answer: "No, I won't judge their hearts, I assume it was for the glory of God." But then, why is this not seen or heard? They are amazed about the talent and voice, and they see a grand future for this girl – which is natural in a school talents show.

    I took this example because of the perspective those have, who put this on GodTube. This is the real issue here. I don't judge the hearts either, and I would not dream of thinking ill about this girl. But I see what I see and I hear what I hear. What do I see? Christians who have lost their sense for worldliness. Who see at as desirable to become "great" in this world. I can't help, but this is 180° different from the road our Lord has walked. Where Christ said: Either the world or the Kingdom, contemporary churches say: Both and. And this is seen and heard by the way they worship.


  63. aBasnar says:

    You are right, Jay, in that printing the Bible is a multi-million dollar industry, too. But do the printers get famous or even rich by this? Normally you don't get rich in the printing industry (I work as a printer …).
    Or do they put posters of the top ten Bible Printers on the wall?
    Or do they make charts of the top ten Designs for Bible Covers?

    There are similarities, but also huge differences, Jay.

    And, yes, there is a difference between CCM industry and worshipping to CCM music.

    But when our worship assemblies begin to implement all the features of a secular pop concert, this difference becames barely visible. Then we have already endorsed the concept of mimicking the world.

    Some of our songs (less than 10% in our song book) have CCM background – and can be sung a-capella, too. Singing them does not make us agree with CCM in general, you are right. But one of the reasons to introduce instruments in worship is to make CCM sound more like CCM – therefore they don't argue for adding a simple piano to worship, but for adding a whole band with darums and all the trimmings.

    We don't put a symphonic orchestra into our churches in order to sing old hymns like "Daughter Zion"- which would be the equivalent of putting a pop-band into the church in order to accompany a CCM-song in worship. Both would create an atmosphere alien to worship, borrowd from the concert halls of the world. AND THIS is definitely across the border line. Here we satsfy worldly (carnal) desires for entertainment and conformity to the standards and life style of this generation.

    It makes me sad, that you and most others fail to understand this matter.


  64. wjcsydney says:

    Thanks for your insights, Alexander. However, one can have applause (excitement about what God has done in our lives not recognition of human achievement), bands, contemporary music and all of the above being used for the glory of God and the edification of the body and not for worldly fame and recognition.

  65. Alabama John says:

    I don't know of a happier moment than when one of your children come up out of the water as a child of God.

    Clapping and shouting, dancing a jig, seems to be so inadequate to express the happiness and thankfulness you feel. Your heart seems about to burst.

    I've also been in the conservative churches where no emotion is expressed when one comes out of the water, not even an AMEN, total silence, so all would be in decency and order.

    I like the loud celebration much better as it is what they are doing in Heaven and if its good enough for heaven, its good enough for me!.

  66. aBasnar says:

    If the way we cheer and shout for joy is in no way different than the way secular artists are applauded … hhmmm.We see what is before our eyes, we cannot judge hearts – but if the way we DO things is the same as things are done in the world out of man-centered motives, I think we at least will be misjudged (or even kid ourselves). Especially when we do this to invite/attract unbelievers who know the same behavior from their secular entertainment. They won't see the difference, and they won't get the idea that this is done for the glory of God. they just regard it as "cool" or "impressive".

    You know, one of the main reasons for CCM (that is at least said in defense of it): By this we can attract unbelievers. But if they can't tell the difference to what they know from the world, they won't get to the heart of worship, but remain on the surface of entertainment. And – as I believe – one of the main reasons that is not meantioned officially is that many many dear Christians have not come to the heart of worship either, but simply want to be entertained. One of the signs for that: Church hopping. "The music in our church has become dull, so we move on to a church with a bigger and cooler worship band." You know these storys, I'm sure.

    That's why I think it was a good experience to NOT applaud to a good performance in ORDER TO NOT give glory to men, but to God.


  67. aBasnar says:

    I do like celebrations as well. There are – thanks to God – more possibilietes between these two extremes you mentioned.

    When a familiy from our church invited a birthday party, they served good food, and drinks (alcoholic as well), and played loud worldly music and invited to dance. I decided, never ever again to attend one of their parties. They actually are hardly a church fa,iliy, attending very rarely, having some strong and rather dissenting views … a sad story in many ways. But a good example to illustrate what it means when Christians don't understand the difference between the Kingdom and the World.

    Sad to see for me, that I seem to be the only one around here with these concerns. It's is not pleasant to debate all others alone, so I'd call this quits – or pointless.


  68. Jay Guin says:

    Alexander,Your attitude toward applause is puzzling. I remember the first time my congregation applauded a baptism. It was spontaneous — triggered by the enthusiasm of the young convert.Applause simply expresses appreciation. And we appreciate baptism — the event, the person’s decision to be baptized, the birth of a new sibling in Christ, and God’s work in the baptism.(Psa 47:1-2 ESV)  Clap your hands, all peoples! Shout to God with loud songs of joy!  2 For the LORD, the Most High, is to be feared, a great king over all the earth.(Psa 98:8-9 ESV)  8 Let the rivers clap their hands; let the hills sing for joy together  9 before the LORD, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity.We are commanded to be a grateful people, and that would seem to readily imply that we should express our gratitude.

  69. aBasnar says:

    The problem is: You don't get my point, Jay.
    This might mean, I am a bad communicator – or it means, you don't listen.
    Sometimes I gave the feeling it goes like this:

    I meant: Applauding is the way to celebrate an artist's accomplishment on stage, or a speaker fiery speech the way the world does it. It is praising men.

    You (or others) speak of applauding at a baptism. Remember we debating are in the context of CCM – so where shall this lead us? But still, I prefer louid AMENs for celevrating baptism, followed by prayers of thanks and songs of praise – not this carnal and worldy applauding.

    I referred to applauding a worship band or artist as if it were a secluar pop band – using the same expression to prai e human abilities as in the world.

    You pull out some verses from the Psalms …. I beg your pardon, Jay! But I understand, we can justify drums, keyboards and all CCM trimmings with the Psalms, so why not clapping as well? When we burn invcense and slaughter sheep again, you could convince me on that.

    But even so. Applauding is not praising God, but praisuing men – in our cluture and undestandig of this. Let the unbelievers judge, when they watch this! Ask them: "Whom are these people applauding?" They will answer: "The preacher", "The worship band", "The person who got wet" – because, that's what they see. And that's what they expect the clapping to mean!

    So don't be kidding yourself! CCM in all its expressions follows worldly patterns and motives – that's it, even if you don't see it this way.

    It seems to me, though, that in fact it does not matter how much I try to put together my arguments, because I am simply not understood – or you simply don't want to think through the dangers of worldliness. For me this is not puzzling, it's frustrating and – to be honest – a waste of time.


  70. wjcsydney says:

    Sounds much like the wedding at Cana..

  71. wjcsydney says:

    Alexander, I fail to see where in the Bible it tells us that applause is to give approval to works of men. At Northside our applause gives honour to God. Implicitly and explicitly. As do our songs, in whatever genre they belong, ancient, modern, traditional, innovative, accompanied, unaccompanied, whole congregation, solo, small choir.. whatever. Declaring that a certain genre of music or certain activities are "worldly" or undesirable does not make them so. This will be my last comment on this post – I believe we are approaching the discussion from such vastly different paradigms that it's pretty pointless continuing.

  72. aBasnar says:

    I fail to see where in the Bible it tells us that applause is to give approval to works of men.

    I said: The culture of our time associates it with praise to men. And we in our churches took it over from there, because until a few decades ago this was not common in any church. You don't read aboiut such in the NT, and I think it is questionable to use the veres in Psalms to say: Hey, that's the same. It is NOT the same. And we did not introduce clapping because of the Psalms,m but because of the world.

    This, Wendy, is so obvious and plain to see – I really cannot not see how you can't see it. But I fear, you and many others have been misled and blinded to this.

    But, yes – pointless seems to be to the point.


  73. guy says:


    i don't see how applause has such a fixed cultural reference. Because it expresses praise for performance *sometimes* that doesn't mean it does so all the time. i think sometimes it means a mere show of support like when a group agrees with a position expressed by a politician or activist. People aren't saying "wow, that person is so great," but rather "yes, i agree." Further, what the applause is intended to convey can be directed. "Let's all welcome so and so with a round of applause"–the applause that follows surely expresses welcome. Further, in some cultures, clapping means something very very different–in some Asian cultures, clapping is a means of scaring away evil spirits. Point being–the meaning of the gesture can evolve and adapt. A use of applause that does not convey praise to a man but rather mere celebration or approval or welcome could be such a mutation.


  74. aBasnar says:

    Guy, I just review the last two decades.
    CCM came and applauding came.
    Preachers are applauded.
    Worship teams are applauded.
    And the cultural reference to this is the culture we live in.

    I am through with churches who mimick the world. Totally through. And I a m ver sad to see this development in the churches of Christ as well – I'm not talkinhg about applauding per se, but about the mindset of conformity. Applauding is actually a minor issue I used as an ilustration, because it was (at least to me) so obvious in one of the videos I posted. But I realize it opened a side track that leads away from the main issues with CCM.

    The majority of my questions still remains unanswered.


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