Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Feeling God But Not Knowing God

“In Christian music we are missing the key pillar, the cornerstone, which the other two rely upon - sound doctrine! There has already occurred a much needed return to praise and worship in the church and we’ve observed that across the board in evangelicalism. There has also been, in recent years noted scandals with both Televangelists and Christian artists, bringing a heightened call for more personal integrity, holiness and ecclesiastical accountability.[6] Though we have not arrived in those areas, we are on the path, nevertheless, the Achilles heel of our industry is the blatant absence of sound biblical theology which has effected every level of Christian music. This is most evident in it’s message. Christian music, originally called Jesus Music that once fearlessly sang about the gospel, now sings of a Christ-less, watered-down, pabulum-based, positive alternative, aura-fluff cream of wheat, mush-kind-of-syrupy God-as-my-girlfriend thing. There is an obvious reason this has taken place: artists primarily feel; theologians primarily think. We need artists who will balance their zeal with knowledge[7] to invest their lives in the daily discipline of Bible study, and then, to write with the fire, passion and enthusiasm which that study has illumined to communicate the glorious language of the church - the holy Word of God! Until this occurs, we are guilty of sentencing a generation of Christians to simply “feel” their God, rather than to know their God! In the early days of my own music ministry I wrote songs that neither represented good music or precise theology. It is out of the crucible of those experiences that God convicted me, which drives me to speak passionately to these issues.” (Emphasis Mine)

-Steve Camp “What Makes Music… Christianly”

I certainly appreciate Steve Camp and his sound biblical theology and the fact that he seeks to make his music line up with Scripture. We certainly need many more like him in Christian music. Lack of sound doctrine is a key issue with so-called Christian music today, and the reason that so many people involved in music tend to really irritate me. They tend to be free spirits who don’t want to be encumbered with all that doctrine and theology stuff, claiming that they just want to “looove Jesus”. But loving Jesus means that we also adhere to the truth proclaimed through the Word of God.

“6And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments This is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, that you should walk in it.
(2 John 1:6, NASB)

“13Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.
14Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you.” (2 Timothy 1:13-14, NASB)

15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15, NKJV)

But what about love? If we are truly adhering to God’s truth, then we will be expressing love toward one another. It should go hand in hand with doctrinal truth. The bottom line is that if we love Jesus, we will adhere to his truth. God is to be worshipped in both spirit and in truth.

“23"But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.
24"God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." “
(John 4:23-24, NASB)

When people engage in a ministry such as Christian music, they are expressing their thoughts and views about God. They are really communicating a message concerning God and it is therefore imperative that the message be rooted and grounded in Scriptural truth. Otherwise the message is vague and can project a distorted view of God. If the message of Christ is to reach people’s hearts, it is of utmost importance that those involved in music be sure the message in their music is proclaimed with biblical clarity.

I will also add that this is not an issue isolated to music, but also the church in general. It has become the bane of evangelicalism, where we are focusing on creating experience and emphasizing emotion and feeling above the importance of Scriptural truth. There is nothing wrong with engaging the emotions when worshipping God and that should be encouraged. But more important is grounding our emotion and feeling in objective biblical truth. I fear that much of what has taken place in the church today is an overcorrection to the error of discounting feeling and emotion in worship. And this unfortunate trend seems to be increasing in intensity. More and more Christian leaders are adapting to the spirit of this age and cooking up an approach to ministry to suit man’s carnal nature.

“The church of the 21st century... focuses worship primarily on what a person experiences about God instead of what a person learns about God. This trend is confirmed by the growing unchurched, biblically illiterate, ethically void, population growing up outside of the influence of Christianity. Their basic need is to experience the presence (immanence) of God, not to be educated about God or the church. Emphasis is placed on stirring the heart and emotions, not educating the head.”(Emphasis Added)

“The Church of the 21st Century”
By Bill Easum


While Bill Easum would not necessarily be identified with the emerging “church” movement, he has been heavily influenced by postmodern authors such as Leonard Sweet. (read this article here, second to last paragraph) Easum is a church consultant and his thinking is very influential in many churches.

I am in no way making an excuse for the seemingly dead, lifeless approach that many churches got caught up in and I do not want to see an overreaction in the opposite direction as well. We do not want to merely engage in a cold, dead orthodoxy. But to make the error of discounting the importance of sound doctrine as an alternative is a grievous mistake, with devastating spiritual consequences.

1 comment:

T A Blankenship said...

Eric,
Great article. It is so true. There is much more emphasis on emotional experience rather than on Knowing God.
I look forward to Aug. 01.