I have been a Charismatic believer for forty-two years. I was a weekly “worship leader” in Charismatic, “prophetic and apostolic” environments for thirty-five of those years. I get the picture as someone who has been on the inside for a very long time. I thoroughly understand the history, theology, values, beliefs, and practices behind Charismatic praise and worship expression. I also have had serious concerns and uneasiness about the theology and practice for a very long time.
When it comes to the most sacred of sacred cows in the Christian herd, praise and worship is the lead steer. In this installment of the Church Refugee Sanity Guide, I take a look at the theology, methods, and values behind much evangelical worship expression.
The similarities between a modern youth praise and worship service and a Hitler youth rally are terrifying. Our beliefs and practices regarding what has become a subculture and mega-business of so-called Christian praise and worship, need a complete overhaul. [An excerpt from my book, Praise, Worship, and the Presence of the Lord, available here.]
I recently had the privilege again of doing a podcast with my friend, Steve Bremner of Fire on Your Head. In this podcast we discussed the most sacred of all sacred cows–praise and worship. Touch this issue, and if people have either their identity, their money or both wrapped up in some belief structure about praise and worship, the long knives will come out! Praise and worship in this environments used to be a cottage industry. It is now big business. Touching these things is like stirring a bees nest, especially when the bees nest is full of twenty dollar bills.
It is my contention that in many evangelical, charismatic, and apostolic-prophetic environments, that we have degenerated into old covenant, if not pagan beliefs and practices. We erroneously believe ourselves to either be exercising our liberty, or “restoring” some lost truth about praise and worship, and its alleged importance in our “services.” I believe both our theology and practice need a complete new covenant, grace-based overhaul. I say this as someone who was a worship leader for 35 years in charismatic and apostolic-prophetic environments. I know the good and the bad.
This podcast is taken from my book, Praise Worship, and the Presence of the Lord: A Better Way to Worship. It is available here. It is also available in Kindle, epub, and pdf formats.
Here is the link to the podcast:
There are only six mentions of the presence of the Lord in the new testament, and none of them have anything to do with praise and worship. When I discovered this, I was shocked, as I had been trained to believe the two were intimately connected. How the change from the old to the new covenant affects our understanding and experience of the presence of the Lord, is not well understood. What follows is a condensed and simplified compilation of the distinctions between the two covenants as it relates to the Lord’s manifest presence. The full book Praise, Worship, and the Presence of the Lord: A Better Way to Worship is available in all formats at: www.stevecrosby.com
The term “anointing” is as prevalent in Pentecostal/Charismatic circles (hereafter abbreviated: P/C, and representative of all subsets thereof) as salt in the ocean. Considering how little the new covenant scripture mentions it, it seems like too much has been made of too little. In some places, the alleged “anointing” has become a fetish, a golden calf: our worship services exist to facilitate someone’s idea of what the anointing is, rather than to honor the person of Jesus.
The leaders of the 1948 Latter Rain Movement taught that part of God’s restoration scheme for the church was the restoration of Davidic protocols of praise and worship. It was believed this was an integral part of God’s overall equipping of the church to reach its ultimate purpose. David’s life as a Psalmist and his relationship and interaction with the manifest presence of God (the ark of the Covenant, the Holy of Holies, Mt. Zion, etc.), were presented as the pattern for all subsequent generations of believers, in a restored truth sense. How did the apostles interpret and apply the “restoration” of David’s tabernacle (tent)?
New Covenant praise and worship is a life and heart issue, not a correct form issue, Davidic or otherwise. Our lives as living sacrifices are our worship, not our singing. Engaging in the forms and visceral thrills of modern praise and worship while failing to understand the sustaining belief systems of the things we might practice, contributes significantly to the drift into aberrance of both the expressions and beliefs.
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.
Have you ever wondered why hundreds and thousands joined the early communities when it would cost them everything? Great grace, power, and fear were upon the ekklesia (church). We’re not too crazy about #3 these days-it’s not church growth seeker friendly. “None dared to join them,” doesn’t fit our “church growth strategies.” Yet even with great fear, people joined themselves. Why?