Another quote from Horton's book

Even with contemporary praise choruses that versify or paraphrase a psalm, the response section of the text is often separated out from the indicative section, which proclaims who God is and what he as done. Thus, the focus of worship these days seems to be on what we are doing, how we are feeling, and how we intend to respond: "I just want to praise you"; "We will lift you up"; "Let's just praise the Lord"; "I am joyful," etc. But this is to separate the law from the gospel, the imperative (what we are to do) from the indicative (what God has already done, is doing, and will complete for us in Christ). Vagueness about the object of our praise inevitably leads to making our own praise the object. Praise therefore becomes and end in itself, and we are caught up in our own "worship experience" rather than in the God whose character and acts are the only proper focus.

(p. 26)

While I would consider myself in favour of contemporary Christian music as a concept, there are certain criticisms of it with which I can agree.

BTW, what do you think of the idea of posting short quotes, rather than phrasing a response myself to the arguments being made by whatever I'm currently reading?


This quote, particularly the part you've emphasized, reminds me of the time I went to a praise evening in Langley. It really creeped me out.

Definitely there are a lot of contemporary Christian songs that are very man-centered. This is probably the main reason why it is taking the Book of Praise Committee such a long time with adding new hymns.

I'm liking the current format of you posting a quote and then commenting on it a little bit. It's helpful to the rest of us to be able to see what you're reading so that we can understand your opinion within the context.

Can you expand upon the "creeped out" part Scott?

The song leaders seemed like they were stoned or something.

By 'stoned' I assume you refer to their eyes being closed, and talking about 'unusual' things. I know that a lot of praise can be man-centered. And that we have to be careful to focus on God and not how we feel. But at the same time, that doesn't mean worship has to be an emotionless experience. What about Miriam and others who danced for joy when God did something for them? Is worship supposed to be logical and orderly all the time? Sometimes logic is good, like a worship service which shouldn't be in chaos! Music is a lot like math, with it's beats and chords and 'formulas' to some extent. But we need to show emotion. We need to be glad we believe and not afraid of showing how we feel. It seems sometimes like the Canadian Reformed Church emphasizes doctrine at the expense of any emotional response. Now I'm starting to ramble but feel free to expand upon your previous comment...

I'm not quite sure whether or not this was what Scott was referring to but, if it was, how can you then explain people praying with their eyes closed and hands folded (a typical CanRC prayer posture)?

There were some parts where they had their eyes closed and were talking rather strangely. Some of the song leaders, their eyes seemed kind of glazed over as if they had been smoking weed. Not to say that they were, but that's how it appeared from where I was sitting. Their choice of words also reflected this: "I don't know where you're at right now, but I'm feeling..." Sorry can't remember how that sentence ended.

Their choice of music was unfamiliar, being mostly contemporary stuff. There is nothing wrong with contemporary stuff on the whole, but for the most part I've noticed more and more Arminian-type songs. At praise evenings in Aldergrove we tend to sing more traditional songs that most people know without having to listen to Praise 106.5 on a regular basis. Here is the list from our last praise evening:

  • O Sacred Head Now Wounded
  • When I Survey the Wondrous Cross
  • Alas! And Did My Saviour Bleed?
  • Lamb of God
  • There is a Reedemer
  • And Can It Be?
  • My Saviour's Love
  • O the Deep Deep Love of Jesus
  • Christ the Lord is Risen Today
  • Rejoice the Lord is King
  • The Risen Lord
  • He Lives
  • Come Proclaim the Victory
  • Peace Like a River
  • Praise the Lord

In between each song is reading of some sort or a solo (I didn't include any of the solos in the list above). Some songs the choir sings the first two or three verses and the congregation joins in on the last verse. Some songs the congregation sings without the choir.

Overall the praise evening in Langley seemed very man-centered. That's about as clear as I can be. Indeed Miriam was singing and dancing after the crossing of the Red Sea; not only was that part of their culture, but that would have been quite an experience. In our culture, spontaneous bursts into song only occur in the movies and stage performances. IMHO some people take too literal an interpretation of what it means for the Spirit to move you.

So, how is an evening with in which there are songs by a choir and soloists less man-centered than one in which all participate in everything?

In these praise evenings at Langley, they do also mix in scripture reading and prayer.

I think that there are places even within our culture in which people do spontaneously break into song - be it singing as you work, as you walk, etc. I don't see anything wrong with that, although I do start to get annoyed if the same chorus is repeated a million times over.

The man-centered issue is about the choice of songs. I'm not sure but perhaps people are picking based on the tune instead of the lyrics?

I like the quotes so long as you make SOME sort of comment about them, otherwise I feel like I'm reading a textbook and not a blog ;-)