Saturday, March 29, 2014

Have mercy...

Cornelius Plantinga recently criticized Evangelical worship because, he says, it neglects sin:
.... Anglicans, Catholics and Lutherans continue to include confession or a rite of penitence as a regular part of their worship services, he noted. But in evangelical and Reformed churches, he sees "less and less" sin-related material every year.

Over 158,000 churches in North America get the music for their worship services from Christian Copyright Licensing International....

Looking at the content of CCLI songs, Plantinga observed that there are "very few penitential songs." The "biblical tradition of lament, which is all through the prophets and the Psalms is gone, just not there," he said.

One of the reasons Plantinga believes evangelical worship leaves out sin is a desire to be "seeker friendly" and avoid topics that may turn off non-Christians or new Christians.

"Mindful that seekers come to church in [an] American no-fault culture in which tolerance is a big virtue and intolerance a big vice, worship finders in evangelical churches often want nothing in the service that sounds judgmental," he said. And for that reason "lots of evangelical churches these days are unrelievedly cheerful."

The Apostle Paul would not feel welcome in many evangelical churches today, he added. "Where is [Paul's] easy smile? Why does he want to discipline people? Why is he so doggone dogmatic? Where are the stories in his sermons? ....

This was not always the case with evangelical churches, Plantinga explained. "They used to be champions of the holiness of God, of contrition for sins against God's holiness, and therefore grace that justifies sinners," but "a lot of that has dissipated."

When churches leave the topic of sin out of worship, they are not relevant to the lives of their congregants, Plantinga believes, because people encounter sin and sin's consequences daily.

"[Un]ceasingly cheerful worship does not fit with the lives of people who come to worship," he said. "... Churches that silence the biblical message of sin and grace simply aren't anywhere near where people actually live their lives, including people in their own congregations." .... [more]
ALMIGHTY and most merciful Father,
We have erred and strayed from Thy ways like lost sheep:
We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts:
We have offended against Thy holy laws:
We have left undone those things which we ought to have done;
And we have done those things which we ought not to have done;
And there is no health in us.
But Thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us, miserable offenders:
Spare Thou them, O God, which confess their fault:
Restore Thou them that are penitent;
According to Thy promises declared unto mankind in Christ Jesus our Lord.
And grant, O most merciful Father, for His sake,
That we may hereafter live a godly, righteous, and sober life,
To the glory of Thy holy Name. Amen. [BCP, 1662]