In a recent interview with The Christian Post, Keith Getty had some strong words for the so-called “contemporary worship movement.”
Modern worship is an movement of “cultural relevance.”
It’s “utterly dangerous,” and is leading to the “de-Christianizing of God’s people.’”
“An authentic generation doesn’t begin with catharsis; it has to begin with an authentic picture of the God of the Bible.”
“Over 75 percent of what are called the great hymns of the faith talk about eternity, Heaven, Hell, and the fact that we have peace with God. Yet, less than 5 percent of modern worship songs talk about eternity.”
No kidding. In other words, Keith Getty says what anyone who dared look at the movement with a critical eye has been saying for decades. Contemporary worship isn’t helping the church, it’s infected it with a resistant and insidious strain of narcissism, an addiction to jesusy entertainment, and a self-soothing pseudo-gospel.
Keith and I would likely have diverging ideas about how to fix this problem, but he’s absolutely right about this. Moving away from a sung liturgy, the Psalter, and robust hymnody has largely turned the service of Word and Table into a Christian parody of the rock concert. Contemporary worship, or pop worship, as I like to say, is spiritual junk food, a quick and easy answer to deep spiritual hunger. But in the end, it only leaves the church bloated and addicted.
Worship that seeks personal fulfillment or release is a fundamentally masturbatory pursuit, and as such, is idolatry; a substitute for the discipline and dedication required by the costly grace offered to us. If we’re not careful, we can easily find ourselves addicted to the over-stimulation “worship” experience, deadened to the actual presence of God around us, and unsure about the nature of the faith with which we align ourselves.
In the end, pop worship is a disastrous failed experiment. Instead of giving worshipers what they need, we’re merely leading them on. Instead of offering them the well-balanced meal of historic liturgy, we’ve discovered that empty fast-food carbs are cheaper, easier, and addictive. But that sort of thing can only sustain for a little while. How long, church, until we figure this out? When we finally do, will there even be anything of value left in place?
I think the answer is clear.
It’s time to pull the plug.
End the pop worship experiment now.
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