Tuesday, November 10, 2009

When is disliking not really disliking?

Sometimes we are encouraged by friends in ways that surprise us. In past postings I have shared about my morning coffee days with my two very traditional friends. These two are very much into the traditional music scene in the Methodist church: choirs, robes, organs, the works. One of these friends will attend a contemporary worship service when the chance arises, but the other generally would not. He makes no bones about this: "I just don't like the music!" Given that I have been intimately involved with that music at that church for most of the last decade, I very much appreciated his honesty, if not his taste in music.

So, the other day, I heard that he had changed his position. He now liked praise music. He still didn't want to listen to it, but he liked it.


Well, it turns out he had a discussion with a mutual friend at church, a wonderful 60-something grandmother. He found out several things: first, that she really liked the music. Not a surprise there, since she had been attending the contemporary service for years. More importantly, she explained how the music facilitated and encouraged her worship. This is what struck my traditional friend. The last thing he thinks about while experiencing contemporary Christian music is enjoyment, much less worship. So this was quite a revelation.

So now we have a convert. Someone who values praise music as highly as traditional music. Values, but not enjoys. I love that! How many of us can claim to accept things in our lives that really get on our nerves, but we know are important to others. How much love for our fellow Christians that shows!

Can you name anything in this category? Specific examples?

I'd like to think of myself as tolerant and accepting, but there are definitely things that bug me. For me, when there is song playing behind the spoken pastoral prayer, I have a hard time focusing on the prayer. I've been told by others that such songs really help. I'm sure there are aspects of the worship service that don't do anything for me, yet I know are important to others. It's hard to just ignore things but I believe it is important and a very fundamental part of "Do unto others." I hope you agree.


Thursday, November 5, 2009


Literally, bibliolatry is the worship of a book. There a short but interesting Wikipedia article available. It touches on the bits related specifically to Christianity, where one worships the Holy Bible as opposed the the Holy One. I've witnessed the process of Bible study and Bible inerrancy leading to Bibliolatry. (I'll use upper case Bibliolatry to indicate the specific worship of the Christian Bible.) How does this happen? What would Jesus think about it?

So, this is a tricky road to walk. Yes, we want to fall back on the Bible as a guide and blueprint for this earthly life. But, strong the temptation is to quote scripture instead of prayer to consult the one who inspired the scripture. After all, much of the Bible requires interpretation. Putting things in historical context is one great service that trained pastors and teachers can do for the rest of us. Without this background and context, the road to Bibliolatry gets more slippery. This is when we risk quoting things, and potentially modifying our behavior in ways that the scripture was simply never intended. Nothing is worse than thinking you are on the path to salvation when Jesus just watches and shakes his head in sadness.

Can we spend too much time in the Bible? The obvious answer is no, but then to what level do we exclude other Biblically-mandated activities such as prayer and fellowship? Can we not learn as much about God from these activities as we can by academically studying the scripture?

I don't have the answer, but I am frequently frustrated. It is hard to hear very knowledgeable folks - with literal knowledge of Bible contents - quote scripture without even considering the meaning, or the specific application at hand. Even the Truth, when misapplied, does no service to the King.