I was just reading an essay by D. A. Carson, “Worship Under The Word”.
Carson is, in my estimation, one of the greatest biblical scholars in the world today. And I don’t just say that because he loves university ministry. 🙂 Approximately one gazillion (rounding up from three hundred and forty-four) of his writings are available for free online. They’re worth reading. Or at least saving to your hard drive so you can find them when you search your computer using Google Desktop…
Anyway, in footnote 39 on page 47 of this essay, he makes a rather pointed observation. I have bolded my favorite line.
Perhaps this is the place to reflect on the fact that many contemporary “worship leaders” have training in music but none in Bible, theology, history, or the like. When pressed as to the criteria by which they choose their music, many of these leaders finally admit that their criteria oscillate between personal preference and keeping the congregation reasonably happy—scarcely the most profound criteria in the world. They give little or no thought to covering the great themes of Scripture, or the great events of Scripture, or the range of personal response to God found in the Psalms (as opposed to covering the narrow themes of being upbeat and in the midst of “worship”), or the nature of biblical locutions (in one chorus the congregation manages to sing “holy” thirty-six times, while three are enough for Isaiah and John of the Apocalypse), or the central historical traditions of the church, or anything else of weight. If such leaders operate on their own with little guidance or training or input from senior pastors, the situation commonly degenerates from the painful to the pitiful.
Heh. Heh. Heh.
I would “heh” more, but apparently three times is enough. 🙂
I just read an interesting article
about Christianity in China. The emphasis of the piece is on the dominance of Reformed theology in Chinese Christianity, but I was struck by the comments on the role of universities in the revival.
And in China, the place where Calvinism is spreading fastest is the elite universities, fuelled by prodigies of learning and translation. Wang Xiaochao, a philosopher at one of the Beijing universities, has translated the two major works of St Augustine, the Confessions and the City of God, into Chinese directly from Latin. Gradually all the major works of the first centuries of the Christian tradition are being translated directly from the original languages into Chinese.
All of this is happening outside the control of the official body which is supposed to monitor and supervise the churches in China. Instead, it is the philosophy departments at the universities, or the language departments and the departments of literature and western civilisation that are the channel.
“The [officially recognised] churches are not happy with universities, because it is not within their control. And their seminaries are not at the intellectual level of the universities,” says Dr Tan. “Chinese Christianity using Chinese to do Christian thinking has become a very interesting movement.”
If [May Tan] goes to preach at an official church, she says, “There will be perhaps 1000 people and 95% of them are over 65. So it’s a sunset church. But if I went to house church – there would be 1000 people; perhaps 20 of them in their 50s, and all the rest are youngsters. The older ones will all be professors at the universities. So these are the future of the churches. They have registered pastors, and no access to seminaries: But they have youth, and future, and money.”
And later on
“Very soon”, said Dr Tan, “Christians will become the majority of university students… that could happen.”
May it come to pass.