Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Yikes! Part 2

Here's an excerpt from the book I'm currently reading, Getting Christianity Right! by Robert Sessions (iUniversity Press, New York, 2007).

I do understand why some of you have said you would rather do other things with your time, and normally I'd probably agree, but I'm reading this for my friend Vada. Well, plus I do also like to keep track, loosely, of how Lib Prots think. They're taking over, after all, in the mainline Protestant denominations.

Faced with stagnant or even declining numbers on membership rolls, many traditional churches have opted to cling harder to some of the more informal, emotional, worship ways of the past. Although often called “contemporary services,” most of these forms of worship, in reality, are a throwback to earlier Pentecostal types of services, or to still earlier Methodist and Baptist, including frontier, churches. On the frontier, most churches did not have hymnbooks. Many had no pianos. So they sang words they could repeat over and over – “one liners.” Whoever led the service would do what they called, “line it out.” He or she would sing a line and the congregation would repeat it. Like many present-day services, they were primarily emotional, arm-waving, “Praise the Lord” experiences.

Today, although many contemporary services may use the latest electronic instruments and pull-down projection screens, most of them offer a faith that does not run deep or explore questions. They assume the Bible as the perfect word of God. They see charity in terms of boxes of food at Thanksgiving, rather than in realities such as equality and justice in race and gender, and in economic and education systems. They appeal primarily to persons who would rather feel than think, and they seldom raise questions about either God or social justice.

If these old-time services in what some call “modern” dress were truly contemporary, they would help worshipers understand the finest, up-to-date bible scholarship. They would seek the meaning for religion of the work of modern science. They would explore with today’s Christians such social problems a worldwide hunger, child labor, lack of medical care, the need for universal education, and the destruction of the earth’s resources. pp. 8-9


To Ponder:

Is charity more about “equality and justice in race and gender, and in economic and education systems” than about giving food at Thanksgiving (and other times)? Is it na├»ve to think Christians can much influence the world concerning the former?

Is it true that attendees of “contemporary services” are less interested in thinking than in feeling?

“…worldwide hunger, child labor, lack of medical care, the need for universal education, and the destruction of the earth’s resources.’’ Are these what a worship service is supposed to be about? Isn't it interesting how the author assumes "social justice" ought to be a main theme of worship services?

If you don't think (as I don't) that's what a worship service is supposed to be about, how should the Church address these issues?

If a person considers the Bible as the Word of God, does that really mean his/her faith “does not run deep”? What does the author mean here by "deep"?

2 comments:

DebD said...

oh boy, he sure does paint with a bit brush.

I have a hard time believing that first paragraph. Really? Frontier Protestants used to sing "one-liners"?? Does he have backup? (it's one of my pet peeves when authors start talking about historical practices). But seriously, I have a hard time believing that our forefathers had trouble memorizing at least a handful of hymns.

DebD said...

oops, meant to say "big".