The More Things Change...

I almost fell off my chair when reading this. Although the modern attack on Christian Worship comes clothed in mass-produced, slick media, the whole affair has its roots deep in 1600s-era Rationalism, Humanism, and Pietism:

(Pietism and Rationalism) ...could not tolerate the fixed and recurring elements in the liturgy. It was ever striving for something new, to the confusion of the congregation and the unimaginable destruction of the liturgy. The ancient and beautiful Introits, Kyries, Glorias, and Creeds, for instance, were frequently discarded. The brief, terse, laconic ancient collects and prayers were exchanged for verbose, sentimental emotings. The church year with its major and minor festivals and their unfolding of the great events of God in Jesus Christ for the redemption of sinful mankind had little meaning to those who denied the resurrection...With the church considrered more as a lecture hall, and the pastor more as a moral instructor than preacher of the Gospel, sermons emphasized the practice of virtue and civil service as cherished ideals...the stream of notable hymns by such authors as Tobias Clausnitzer, Simon Dach, Paul Gerhardt, and Johann Rist, albeit produced during the subjective and emotional era of Pietism, dried up. The earlier, strong, confessional hymns, if used, were often altered beyond recognition, to make them conform to the new theology. As for the occasional rites, these were modified in moralizing fashion as deemed necessary for the occasion or borrowed from the privately produced agendas or liturgical forms that appeared and supplanted the historic rites. [1]

Not to put too fine a point on it, but it should be obvious that there are bigger issues afoot than simple questions of "Musical Style." At what point do we as Christians draw the line? I pray that God will raise up leaders who can clearly articulate (again) the failings of this impoverished theology (small "t") and redirect us back to the Holy Scriptures for guidance in our worship.

  1. Precht, Fred L., in Lutheran Worship: History and Practice, CPH, 1993. p. 82-83.