Sunday, September 6, 2009

Praise Song Cruncher Observations

After my post about the "Praise Song Cruncher", I decided to run it by my Pastor. He is the Reverend Reggie Courliss at the Elkton Missionary Church. He made some very good observations some of which have been echoed by others. Here are his six points:
  1. In the area of clarity. he suggested that many of the old hymns need to be brought up to today's language. "Young people don't understand the thee and thous."
  2. In the area of repetitive: look up Psalm 136:1-26 (psalm= song)... Revelation 4:8 "Day and night they kept repeating Holy, Holy, Holy, Holy..."
  3. In the area of doctrine: absolutely...but to look at all the songs...there are hymns that are not doctrinally sound.
  4. In the area of singing about Jesus. "If I were to stand up in church and say "I want to talk to you about someone who loves me and died for me and wants me to spend eternity with Him" I would think everyone in a church service would know who I talking about. Maybe I assume too much. " In Acts 4:12 it says "There is no other name under heaven by which a man can be saved" but doesn't say Jesus. (editor's note: While it is true this phrase is part of a longer discourse Peter is giving on Jesus, the phrase itself is modifying the Greek subject "This One". )
  5. "I do believe that we need to look carefully at all we say and do in the service. If I can sing a song to either my girlfriend or Jesus we need to establish up front who we sing to by use of scripture, etc. If you put those things in a framework by which people understand it's Jesus I'm singing to I think we're good. "
  6. "It's all about the heart!!!!! You can say all the right words; speak doctrine clearly; sing like an angel but if your heart's not doesn't mean a thing!!" 1 Corinthians 13:1-13

What really bothers me is when we sing songs about ourselves. Not songs that just mention people, or similar, but when we and our worship, or how we are worshiping, or how our lives are effected, is/are the main subject(s) of the song.

Even before I got into the discussion with Pastor Wolfmueller, these kind of songs bothered me. One example I can think of is the song "The Power of Your Love". Or pretty much any song that is me, me, me.

I'm not saying that there isn't a place in our lives for spiritually uplifting music and lyrics. It's just that when we come together in His name, our worship, whether in song or word, should be only about Him and His attributes.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Praise Song Cruncher

Pastor Bryan Wolfmueller from Hope Lutheran Church, Aurora, CO co-hosts a radio show called "Table Talk Radio" with Evan Goeglein. In an episode several months ago they had a segment called "Praise Song Cruncher". It was a good segment where they took some songs Christians normally sing in church, and ran them through certain criteria in order to see what the songs were really about, and to show who the songs are really about.

Here's the "Cruncher" from the Hope Lutheran Church website. As I listened to the program, and later read through the document, I thought that while it seemed like really good advice there was not any Bible mentioned. I had intended to contact the show about it, but got busy and let it fall by the way side.

A few days ago I was on Facebook commenting with some folks at Chris Rosebrough's wall, when Erin commented that she put her music through the "Cruncher" and said most of it failed. I replied with my questions about the Biblical evidence to support each condition of the "Cruncher". Benjamin then suggested that I contact Pastor Wolfmueller if I had questions about it. So that's what I did.

He replied back the next day, saying that the question was fantastic and added an annotated version of the "Cruncher" in the email. Here it is:

1. Jesus “Is Jesus mentioned?”
Yes | No If yes, is it in name or concept?

Romans 15:9 "I will sing... Your name.", Col 3:16-17; Eph 5:19-21; Rev 5:9

2. Clarity
Is the song clear? Does it use sentences (with subject, verb, object) or sentence fragments?

Paul requires clear communication in the service: 1 Cor 14:7-12; 2 Cor 11:6

This grows out of the clarity of Scripture: Ps 119:105, 119

3. Mysticism (Subjectivity vs Objectivity)
Is the song about the things that God has done (objective), or about my own emotions and experiences (subjective)? Does the
song repeat the same phrases over and over in an hypnotic mantra?

Psalms 95-106 all begin with a call for the praises of God, and these praises are to be about who God is and what He has done. See, for example, Ps 96:1-3; 98:1; 100:1-3; 103:1-5; 105:1-2; 106:1-2.

Jesus calls repetition a characteristic of heathen worship in Matt 6:7.

4. Law and Gospel
Does the song proclaim the law in its sternness and the Gospel in its sweetness? (The Gospel is the promise of the forgiveness
of all sins won for us through Jesus' death on the cross.) Are law and Gospel rightly divided (and not mixed up)? Is the law
presented as something that we can do, or does it show us our sins? Is the Gospel conditional (based on my actions, decisions,

Col 3:15-17 Gospel: "peace of God" "grace in your heart"; Law: "admonishing one another"
Eph 5:19-21 Gospel: "giving thanks always..."; Law: "submitting to one another in the fear of God"

5. Is there any explicit false teaching?

Matt 7:15 and all the other verses that get after the false teachers
(For example Mt 10:26; 16:6; Phil 3:2; Col 2:8; 2 Pet 3:17, and so forth)