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)

1 comment:

  1. Since when are feelings automatically mystic as an expression toward God. It seems as though there are quite a few psalms that express emotion. Ps 6, 30

    Although the focus of most of the Psalms is clearly on the Lord, I have a hard time condemning a song just because it proclaimed what we do like Ps 18,31

    That being said I do agree that we use love in an imprecise way in our worship songs because it has taken such a different meaning in our culture. Biblical love of God is centered around trust and faithfulness, not transient feelings. So imprecision is the real culprit in a bad worship song, not necessarily the expression of feelings.