a little bit of reaction
A college friend of mine contributes to a group blog that is dedicated to musing of Fundamentalism. I peruse it every so often just to see what's up in that world and in his. I have probably never considered myself to be a Fundamentalist, and have, since I left school, espoused a spiritual position at which many Fundamentalists would probably sneer down their nose. Oh well. I'm not that upset about it. At any rate, I do respect several of the contributors to this blog and have gleaned some interesting thoughts from their posts. From time to time, though some of the statements made or positions posited rub me the wrong way. Or, at the least, cause me to wrinkle my brow in disagreement. This happened to me the other day. A few months ago there was a post fueling a number of concurring comments regarding worship styles. So, I wasn't completely surprised at these sentences inserted in a prayer letter posted the other day:
While the pastor was leading these young ladies to the Lord, I had the privilege in talking with a Christian man who was attending a SBC church in the area. Yes, there are SBC churches in the North! He used to attend an IFB church, but moved out of their area and began attending this SBC church. His church is going the way of so many churches. They are dropping their traditional format and moving towards a contemporary one. He mentioned that this was troubling. Please pray for L______ that God will direct him away from the SBC church and to _____ Baptist Church.
Now, don't get me wrong, I appreciate a traditional service. Some of the "traditional" hymns are exceptional and beautiful. But I've come to cringe at the use of the term "traditional" in regards to a particular worship format. After all, it's only been "traditional" for about 100 years. And only in particular Protestant circles. Go back to the 18th century, largely psalms and residual liturgical chants. Go back farther and you'd find Latin responses and chants. Go back to the early church and you'd find Judaic psalms and praise songs that no longer exist in that form. Right now, travel to another country and attend a service. What you would find there would have very little to do with Western Protestant worship styles. So--which of these is really "traditional"? And why is one particular form more spiritual than another?
I guess what incited the brow furrow was the use of "going the way of" and "troubling." Perhaps the rest of you who might read this aren't familiar enough with the typical IFB position to understand the implied idea here. If a church is "going the way of," that means it's following a trend of catering to the world as opposed to separating. And this man finds the change of worship styles "troubling." Why? Why is it "troubling" rather than just not his preference. That tends to get under my skin. If you prefer a more "traditional" worship style (ie hymns only), just say that you prefer that. Why must there be judgment of the "modern" worship style by using the word "troubling"? After all, a hundred years ago, hymns were "contemporary." The same furor was probably buzzed about in similar circles regarding those "modern" sounding hymns. But now that time has worn the edges off, and the musical styles have moved past the hymn, the hymn is the most spiritual form of music we can use. I find that pretentious in the mouths of many. (I say many, because I know a few dear souls that feel that their spiritual life is more blessed by hymns, but understand that other people may be more spiritually blessed by other styles of music. I respect them. And I understand their position.)
Perhaps this is merely a rant. I don't know. And I do sincerely hope I have not offended the particular friend who is a part of the Fundamentalist blog. (I have a feeling said person is probably aware that I am not a Fundamentalist.) I certainly understand that some people feel a better fit in the IFB circle. What I cannot deal with, though, and what just leaped out at me from these sentences, is the practice of making a preference some type of spiritual standard or qualification. At any rate, I do know that this topic has been hashed to pieces on other blogs of other friends. As a member of church that chooses to use a "contemporary" style (which does incorporate some hymns, albeit with electric guitars and drums), I find the sentiment expressed in above excerpt rather...patronizing. And all for a preference.
So, for the record, no discussion need follow. Unless someone just cannot contain a response. :) This post was mostly for me. Plus, it's less personally revealing than the other post I was contemplating. I took the easy way out. Please don't judge me. :)