Drinking Deeply

Thursday, May 12, 2005 at 7:20 PM


When I first wrote about it back way back when, one of my friends asked me what I thought and proceeded to ask one of her friends (who went to Newsong and liked it)for his side of it. Here I will give my responses to some of the points he brought up:

First, the points I gave my friend initially:
ok, taken in mind I went to one message, but have heard it's similar from other people who've gone multiple times:

1 and most importantly) They preached with a rather low view of scripture. It was just one message, but giving everyone a handout with "fill in the blank" questions for "notes." The references weren't first to scripture, then to personal experience as an example, but were first to personal experience aka "practicality" and never to scripture.

2) The worship was ... overdone. While I admire and respect their discipline and practice. They were very smoothflowing and knew what they were doing, but then the drum and guitar and singing solos coupled with cameras zooming in and out of the worship band (the cameras were fed onto the screens to the right and left) made me question if I was worshipping God or them

3) A general "bad" feeling about it. Walking into the church (which was huge ) and seeing people, and everything gave me a really bad sinking feeling, and while I don't trust this intuition as authoritative in any way, it doesn't give me a good impression, and I believe Scriptures when it testifies to a Holy Spirit that helps me identify truth and falsehood, and Newsong definitely did not have a good feel. I really wanted to walk out halfway through the message.
I still stand by these points, though I will downplay point 3 and say that it is not a real objection on it's own, but I do know God has placed His Spirit in us to test things, and though our gut instincts can be wrong because of our sin, when they are consistent with Scripture, they are right.

And his response:
him: we believe that we as the church need to be culturally relevant to people in order for them to want to hear the gospel
friend: how do you guys define culturally relevant?
him: that means change is style in music, relatable stories, etc. adding drama, dance, etc.

First off, I question if this concept is even biblical. Paul does say to be a Jew in order to win the Jews, and a Gentile to win the Gentiles, (1 Corinthians 9) but is it necessary to be "culturally relevant" in order for people to want to hear the gospel? Is that the call today?
Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 1:4-6 "For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit"
What happened in there? People received the gospel because it came not because it was culturally relevant, but because it came in "power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction." People received it because God opened their hearts. Even though they received the word "in much affliction" they still received it. Paul preaches the gospel, no matter the culture. He engages and rebukes people, proclaiming the truth, nothing but Christ crucified. He doesn't say "oh this culture is more fuzzy, lets add in some movies or short stories" instead he opens the Word and proclaims the Gospel, which is a fragrance of death to the dead and a fragrance of life to the elect. (2 cor. 2:15-16)
Him: a lot of people expect to be spiritually fed on sundays, and they get really mad if they don't. THAT is between you and god. you can't blame it on people or elements
Here I believe he is addressing the anger in my words. Yes I was (and am) very angry. I expect when I walk into a church that calls itself Christian that it seeks to conform itself to the image of her husband. I expect God's name and His Words to be honored and revered. I expect that it would not be like a whore, spreading it's legs for any passing cultural idol (Ezekiel 16). Am I angry about it when these things happen? Absolutely. I do blame it on the people, the elders and the pastors. They are called to be shepherds of their flock and yet all I heard was poor leadership, poor theology, poor shepherding. That was incredibly offensive to me. To claim the name of Christ and yet be so much a part of the world that it's almost indistinguishable (for them) between the Bible and a self-help book. I am angry when God is so blatantly disregarded by people who call themselves Christians.
He: all i can say is that newsong is culturally relevant to the church population
And all I can say is that Newsong should not conform itself to the pattern of this world (Romans 12:1-2), but to the pattern of Scripture.

On the message itself:

Him: do you know that divorce rates are the same within christian and non christian couples?
it isn't any different for christians, it's still about 50%-60%

Him: we can continue to teach straight from the bible, which isn't wrong, but it might not be relatable unless is was shared by a couple who has gone through the same struggles not as relatable
My friend:
but the Bible is still just as relevant
Him: yes, but the means to make it relevant are from real people that share real problems
Wait, so Christians is just the same as the world in their divorce rates, so the answer must be to become more like the world! Oh yeah I can't believe I never thought of that!

I wonder if this person even believes that the Bible is inspired, for it seems like if it was, God didn't quite plan for everything that happened in this world if it has become so "unrelatable" within 2000 years.

We should rewrite the Bible so that it's more culturally relevant, because God sure did make a mistake and needs an updated Bible now. In fact, I bet Paul didn't foresee that people would have monogamous homosexual relationships, so we should take that out of the Bible. I bet Jesus didn't realize that we were supposed to be tolerant of other people's beliefs, so we should change Christ's claim to be "The Truth, The Way, The Life" into "a truth, a way, a life" right?

Was Jesus not real? Did he not sweat blood for His people? Was Paul not real? Were his tears for broken churches, for his spiritual son Timothy not truly shed?

I believe that Scripture, by it's very nature God-breathed, is always relevant, always useful, always our sole infallible rule of faith for all things. I believe God has provided everything we need to conform to His image within the 66 books of His Word and to add or subtract from these books (or to imply that it is necessary to do so) is blasphemy. I openly confess that I do not conform myself perfectly to His Word, nor does my church, nor will any church ever. We are, and I am, a broken people desperately in need of Christ at all times. But to use this as an excuse for neglecting the Holiness of God is unacceptable, especially for a church, and to ignore God's demands for holiness and a non-conformity to the world... well that's worse than unacceptable.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...


I agree with you. I think the whore analogy is a little harsh, but relevant.

John Kang  


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