Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Putting God and the Gospel first

Two Trevin Wax items this morning. First, an appreciative review of his recent book, Counterfeit Gospels: Rediscovering the Good News in a World of False Hope. The review includes this summary of the "gospels" too often substituted for the Gospel:
  • The “therapeutic gospel” corrupts the Gospel Story by redefining the problem the Gospel solves, making it about me and my felt needs rather than about God’s remedy to restore a fallen creation.
  • The “judgmentless gospel” corrupts the Gospel Story by redefining the Story’s conclusion, downplaying the seriousness of sin and evil and God’s commitment to put the world to rights.
  • The “moralistic gospel” corrupts the Gospel Announcement by replacing Good News with good advice and making it about the works we do rather than about what Christ did in our stead and on our behalf.
  • The “quietist gospel” corrupts the Gospel Announcement, which is a public announcement of Christ’s triumph over all the powers of sin, evil, and death, by turning it into privatized religious experience.
  • The “activist gospel” corrupts the Gospel Community by turning the church into a mission that is more concerned about causes than about Christ, confusing the effects of the Gospel with the Gospel itself.
  • The “churchless gospel” corrupts the Gospel Community by making membership and involvement in a community of believers optional or even by viewing participation in a church as detrimental to my own personal spiritual formation.
In each chapter, Wax gives reasons as to why each counterfeit is so attractive to people, and some suggestions as to how we might “counter the counterfeit” by living in the light of the true Gospel. .... [more]
And second, an article by Trevin Wax himself about evangelical worship, "Steak on a Paper Plate: Serious Worship in a Casual World":
.... One of the core values of many an evangelical church is the effort to put everyone at ease. "Good morning," says the minister or worship leader. Then comes the inevitable: "Let's try that again, GOOD MORNING!" There's a chatty, street-level style of worship that has become prevalent in evangelicalism. And it's not clear that your pursuit of casual novelty in worship meshes well with hearing the Word of God set forth in all its glory.

Can a contemporary, casual service bring worshipers face to face with the glory of God in a way that buttresses and upholds the magnificent truths being expounded from the Word? I think the answer is yes, but not always. ....

When it comes to worship, we're frequently told that form doesn't matter. Style is not what's important. I get that. I'm not belittling contemporary music or advocating a return to liturgy, organs, and hymns. Cultural forms adjust and adapt, and some contemporary worship services have thrown me to my knees before the holiness and majesty of God. The issue isn't "formal" versus "informal," casual clothes versus Sunday best, traditional versus contemporary.

The problem is not with casual worship styles, but with casually worshiping God in whatever style. ....

Form and content are rarely easy to separate. They mirror one another. A church with serious Bible preaching will generally have a serious worship service (contemporary or traditional, formal or informal, but serious). A church with a feel-good preacher will generally have peppy, feel-good music.

Christians need to sense the weight of God's glory, the truths of God's Word, the reality of coming judgment, and the gloriousness of God's grace. .... [more]
IM Book Review: Counterfeit Gospels | internetmonk.com, Steak on a Paper Plate: Serious Worship in a Casual World