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Thursday, August 24, 2006

Body Piercing on worship music.

Worship tunes tend to evince an adolescent theology, one that just can't get over how darn cool it is that Jesus sacrificed himself for the world. "Our God is an awesome God." "Oh Lord, you are glorious." "How can it be/That you, a king, would die for me?" Moreover, it's self-centered in a way that reflect evangelicalism's near-obsession with having a personal relationship with Christ. It's me Jesus died for. I just gotta praise the Lord.

Not for nothing is "Amazing Grace," which marvels at the author's salvation, one of the few traditional hymns to be regularly included in modern worship services. Absent is any hint of community found in hymns such as "The Church Is [sic] One Foundation" -- the Jesus of worship music is a mentor, a buddy, a friend whose message is easily distilled to a single command: praise me. Not "feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the prisoner." Simply thank him for his gift to you (and make sure to display copyright information at the bottom of the screen so royalties can be disbursed).

--Andrew Beaujon, from Body Piercing Saved My Life


Blogger Clint Wells said...

am i the only one who's heart starts beating faster when john newton is called into questionable light?

most hymnwriters wrote hymns specifically addressing certain issues. some hymns are about doubt. some about belief. others about a friend dying. some about sailing. some about feeding the poor.

a writer, if criticized, must be criticized in the context of the bulk of his work. not just one song.

2:28 PM

Blogger David said...

For several years, we got fed the line that worship is supposed to be "vertical" to be authentic worship, therefore it must be based on first-person experience. And of course, experience can be very powerful. But where worship comes into its own is when our experience is rooted in scripture, and scripture becomes the interpreter of our experience. You can tell when the truth of scripture has become embedded in the life of a songwriter. It keeps us out of the "Jesus/my girlfriend" realm of songwriting. It also frees us to write in and out of 1st person, like the psalmists.

4:01 PM

Blogger Matthew Smith said...

Clint- Beaujon isn't criticizing Newton. Worship music that has narrowed down to the first-person still has room for "Amazing Grace," but not for other hymns (including other Newton hymns). Beaujon is giving two examples of great hymns, and explaining why one has made the modern cut and the other hasn't.

David- Great insight. Thanks!

5:14 PM

Blogger Brody Bond said...


10:20 AM

Anonymous Kevin Twit said...

Love this book matthew - thanks for telling me about it. This chapter on worship is amazing and you posted one of my favorite quotes. But kind of funny that he misquotes the other hymn calling it "The Church Is One Foundation"

8:40 PM

Anonymous Danielle A. said...

I'm always woefully behind on reading the blogs I love. I had a hard time resisting the urge to jump up and scream, "YES! THAT'S IT!" when reading this snippet. I think worship music in general is sludge, and this quote sums it up better than I've ever been able to. Must check into this book. Thanks for the link!

7:36 AM

Anonymous Shawn said...

I don't know why people would ever think that way about Christian music. Why don't we learn to respect that, just as much as we respect people who are having their own tongue piercings.

6:36 AM


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