Much modern praise and worship has drifted from sound New Covenant understanding into regressive and manipulative Old Covenant paradigms, paganism, neo-Gnosticism, and New Age beliefs that pander to our culture’s addictive need to be stimulated and entertained. We need to reorient what we believe and do, to the realities of the gospel.
There’s always downward pressure on any legitimate truth. Devolution is inevitable when one generation’s understanding born from a divine encounter is reproduced through the teaching of principles and techniques in subsequent generations. The pressure to make an idol out of a historical moment in God is as unavoidable as mud after a rain. The specifics of the truth of the moment are rarely the issue. The critical element is the missing reality of a divine interaction. Individuals in every generation must have their own burning bush experience.
It’s my premise that this devolution has occurred for modern praise and worship. It has drifted from a sound New Covenant understanding into regressive and manipulative Old Covenant paradigms, paganism, neo-Gnosticism, and New Age beliefs that pander to our culture’s addictive need to be stimulated and entertained. What was legitimately birthed by the Spirit of God in a renewal movement of our forefathers no longer accurately represents Jesus’ interests in the earth. I believe our forefathers would weep to see what their values have become in our generation.
My effort herein is not motivated from a desire to be God’s little praise and worship policeman. He doesn’t need that kind of “help” from anyone, least of all me. This is about concern for the Lord Jesus and His interests in His people. Many are in bondage. Many are in internal conflict, their spirits bearing witness to something being wrong, but are unable (or not allowed) to express their concerns.
Others are trying to hang on in faithfulness, but are exhausted by the mechanics of feeding the beast of a spirit of entertainment: the show must go on to keep ‘em comin.’ In some circles people are being abused and damaged by what they are being asked to believe and do regarding praise and worship. I am compelled to raise a contrary voice.
I do not want to demean in word or spirit those who have gone before me. I am thankful for the hands that rocked my spiritual cradle when in my immaturity I was even less lovely to deal with than I am today! Oh, I do not curse! I bless those hands and hearts to the glory of Jesus forever and ever! However, it’s also appropriate for all of us to grow up and eventually leave the cradle. I’m thankful for the innumerable benefits I received through my heritage at the hands of leaders who labored to impart Jesus to me, to the best of their understanding and ability. I’m thankful for those whose sincere efforts may have fallen short on my behalf. I forgive those who mishandled me in ignorance, malice, and weakness of the flesh. I remember my frame. I am made of the same material. I forgive because I want to be forgiven.
The path to more fully demonstrating His ever-increasing kingdom often requires believers to adjust or abandon some of the concepts they may have been taught in their past.[i] Yesterday’s precious insight may not withstand today’s divine adjustment fully intact. This is inevitable in any advancing spiritual life.
The problem is, we often hold more dearly to our beliefs about Jesus and His kingdom, than to the Person of Jesus and the reality of His kingdom. He will not allow anything to hinder relationship with His own, even our dearly held beliefs. Because of His passionate and jealous love, if our convictions become a hindrance to the relational advance of His kingdom in us, He will personally deconstruct them. We must hold to Him tightly, and our beliefs loosely.[ii]
Why Do We Do, What We Do, in Our Praise and Worship Services?
Why do we do worship the way we do? Considering there’s not a shred of evidence that any of the apostles participated in a high-intensity, marathon worship service, how did we get here? Why do we structure the typical church service around something the apostles never did? Why do we have a near mandatory forty-five minutes (or much more) of singing before the preaching? What theology underlies our practices? What expectations do we have in our worship services and why do we have those expectations? What are the root philosophies of these expectations and where did they come from?
In this five part series, and in the book, these questions and more will be looked at from a new covenant, grace-based, perspective.
This blog is an excerpt from our title: Praise, Worship, and the Presence of the Lord: A Better Way to Worship.
It is available in all formats at www.stevecrosby.com.
Here’s what someone said about it:
When worship is judged as “good” by how it makes us feel, that is religious humanism. Our feelings have become the measure of all things. When worship is judged by whether or not the anointing “falls,” that’s an old Covenant mindset from the times before Pentecost, before Jesus said: “I will never leave you or forsake you.” Religious humanism and Old Covenant mindsets do not make a good mix. We desperately need a New Covenant understanding of worship. How did we get here and what can we do about it is what Steve does a great job of addressing in this book.
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[i] I am not referring to the core essentials of the apostolic faith that have been passed down from generations. I refer to those nuances, differences, and distinctive emphases, which from time to time take a prominent and beneficial place in the life of individual believers and the church at large.