First, let me briefly introduce myself. I am a Protestant (since my parents are) but lately have been very concerned with practices of our church and churches similar to ours. I have been deeply exploring Anglicanism, Catholicism, and Lutheranism over the past 2 years and thought I should post a quick question.
If (the type) of Christianity Christ established in the New Testament was perfect (since Jesus is perfect, so what he institutes is thereby meant to be), then why to Protestant churches (excluding Lutheranism, I think) attempt to modernize Christianity by ditching liturgical practices and implementing loud, modern music, “relevant” sermons, or concert lights? The Church 2000 years ago didn’t have any of these things, and it appears to be evident through the readings of the Church Fathers that early forms of Christianity included highly liturgical practices. The church I go to (non-denominational) does not even have communion but a few times a year!
I think so many people in the congregation like the loud concert-like music more than they do the sermon, or so it seems. BUT- Don’t get me wrong- I fully believe that God can work through any congregation, and if churches believe that loud music can bring people to Christ, then so be it. But what I do not understand is…what was initially wrong with Christianity that provoked such a drastic change from lots of sincere, liturgical worship to horribly-written, theology-lacking music and “relevant” sermons?
Does anyone have any thoughts or opinions about this? I truly appreciate and respect anybody’s opinions and am very thankful for your participation in commenting on this post.
Good for you for noticing! Most “non-denominational” Christians are clueless.
Your concerns are seriously justified. The Christian Church was always a Sacramental Church. It is the loss of the Sacraments that is so sinister in “non-denominationalism” Of course the ultimate Sacrament is the Eucharist which is the climax of the greatest Liturgy ever; The Mass. But your perception and awareness of this great LOSS, is gratifying, at least to me. So few people care enough to do more than scratch the surface of their beliefs.
I would guess there are two things that have happened. You use the term “modernization of the Christianity” as a way to describe non liturgical, popular culture music, a lack of reverence and not much depth in theology.
Some of this I think is related to efforts to “market” Christianity. The music, the loose liturgical style, the “feel good” pop psychology or self improvement emphasis, and the megachurch Starbucks like amenities are all designed to attract people with something that purposefully does NOT feel like Church. So instead there is an effort to look like the culture in terms of style, to appear cutting edge and ahead of the curve and not just your fathers or grandfathers church.
The other vein is simply the evolution of Protestantism. Anything that even looks Catholic means its bad and wrong. But to us Catholics that is obviously a mistake. So Im not sure how Catholics are going to be able to provide a strong argument about what was initially wrong with Christianity since we dont think anything was wrong, and we attempt to stay as close as possible to early Christianity. We ARE early Christianity, Medieval Christianity and modern Christianity. The problem is most Protestants,except for Anglicans, Lutherans , Orthodox, in general , act as though Christianity started with the Reformation and have no clue about what the early Church taught or looked like. To us , it was Catholic. So its hard to give you an answer regarding what do others find wrong with early Christianity except to say that since many people think if it looks Catholic it must be wrong! So, you answer may be that the only thing wrong with early Christianity in the minds of those you are describing, is that it was too Catholic!
I see billboards around here for “non-church” or “church relevant” … sounds like flummery to me.
I like the idea that protestantism is moving itself further from the apostolic traditions, but I wonder if it’s not something a little larger than that.
I have a feeling it has more to do with the culture at large, not just the Christian or religious but the secular as well.
Pope Francis talked about consumerism, and I think this is partially to blame. We’ve become a society where taking our time is a waste of time and everything needs to be had yesterday. The very idea that people can’t wait even a year in order to get a new phone is bizarre.
It seems like it’s a problem with consumerism, materialism, instant-gratification, and perhaps something that most of us don’t consider; we are becoming too comfortable and secure.
I know that sounds odd, but think about it. We have become so well-to-do for the most part here in America and other places, so comfortable in our stuff, that we are starting to find no reason to need God anymore.
“I’ve got my iPhone, my giant tv, my xbox one and i’m good”
What would happen to the majority of people in this nation if they had real hard times (which having to cut back on your cable and phone plans is not hard times). There’s a reason why you see a higher suicide rate in nations that are more prosperous… Just compare India and America…
Anyway, perhaps I’m wrong and people just simply have lost all ability to distinguish good music from junk.:shrug:
To me this is not a theological issue but a catechetical one. What is the best way to reach people and to bring them close to Christ through the service?
At any given time in any given community, there are always people just entering the church who needs a liturgy, music, and sermons that they can understand. But there are also people who are fluent with the traditions, music, and language of the church and need the mass to reflect the sacred (set apart) nature of the service. A good service draws the congregation from the profane to the sacred.
A good set of liturgy, music, sermons, is the one that is most appropriate for that congregation. It must be modern enough to be understood by that congregation but be sacred enough to draw the congregation’s thoughts to God, while teaching the traditions of the church to make that drawing in even easier.
It is very tempting, especially if you are interested in or need the money that a large congregation can bring in, to over modernize. But it does not work at the level that it needs to. As a physics teacher, I see the same thing happen in physics. You can’t get someone to like vegetables by making them taste like candy. It only serves to reinforce the idea that candy tastes better than vegetables.
You don’t need to make the teachings and traditions of the church exciting; they already are exciting. Sometimes you need to lure in people who have no understanding of those traditions by incorporating some aspects of modernism, but it must be used with care lest a ‘means’ become an ‘ends’.
That being said, the best music, liturgy, and sermon’s is the one that best draws the particular community to the sacred. Paul says that he has become all things to all people that he should win a few. Some flexibility in the liturgy, etc., between communities is desirable.
Doh! I missed your comment about Communion. Communion is only emphasized in a few churches that I am aware of, despite its strong Gospel origin. I of course would recommend Catholics strongly as well as the Orthodox churches if you can find one. But, there are a few other churches that put communion as the center of their Church life, even if they do so illicitly. High Anglicans, and some Lutherans if you can find one of those churches sometimes have a good respect for communion. The Anglican church, in particular, is a mess. High Anglican Churches are very similar to Catholics but their liberal versions are very protestant. The respect that Lutheran’s feel toward communion also varies quite a bit. My Dad has had a Lutheran lady beg him to receive Christ. And I have known a Lutheran convert who told me that in his mind the only real difference between the Churches was that Catholics had communion every week. I have also known Methodist ministers who have special communion services for their more conservative members but more protestant services for the rest of the community. The Disciples of Christ is the only church that I am aware (besides Catholics and Orthodox of course) who is consistent with communion.
I believe very strongly that Catholic (or Orthodox) is the only real choice. But everyone makes their journey toward Christ in a different way. If you cannot get yourself to go directly there, then please consider the other options I mentioned.
I share your disdain for “folk” liturgical styles. It is possible to conduct a reverent Mass in ANY musical setting (which might even include drums and strummed guitar played with chords only). I have actually attended such a Mass (much to my dismay) at the Cathedral of my own (Arch)Diocese.
NOTHING about ANY valid Catholic Mass is discretionary to the priest or the musical director. The priest MUST read directly from the Missal (and the same for the congregations’s responses), and the musical director MUST select settings and hymns which have been approved for liturgical use by the Bishop of that Diocese (though this usually is incorporated by a Council of Bishops for that Provence, such as the USCCB).
If you ever attend a Mass in which the Nicene Creed has been altered from “For us men and our salvation” to “For us [slight pause], and for our salvation” then you have not attended a validly conducted Catholic Mass. You have satisfied your Mass obligation and have received valid Eucharist - the fault lies with the negligent priest, and not with you.
But, if you attend a Mass with bad music… that’s not pleasant, but it’s not exactly heresy either.
[quote=DavidFilmer]If you ever attend a Mass in which the Nicene Creed has been altered from “For us men and our salvation” to “For us [slight pause], and for our salvation” then you have not attended a validly conducted Catholic Mass. You have satisfied your Mass obligation and have received valid Eucharist - the fault lies with the negligent priest, and not with you.
Sadly, Christianity (at least here in America, I believe) has temporarily caught some
influence of Post-Modernism. Yes, Post-Modernism, that liberating “out with Old, in
with the New” cultural transitioning which seeks to satisfy the modern tastes which
people today prefer, “not that old stale music and tradition” and so forth.
I believe though that the Catholic Church is, slowly but surely, is seeking to move
people back to more traditional themes, as some Greek Philosophers have been
of the opinion that music and such influences people’s attitude, so it will be a nec-
essary move to get people away from that modernistic trash in the masses.
I don’t hate that modern christian music, mind you, there are many good ones out
there, on the radio, and so forth, many heartfelt sounds, but many I don’t believe
should have a place in masses which are meant to commemorate Christ’s sacrifice.
Let’s be real here; how we worship through singing and praise can be based on one’s culture. When Christianity spread to Africa the new Christians could worship God through the beat of a drum because such was their culture. Electric guitars, drums, etc are a part of (some) American culture and there’s nothing wrong with it.
Take for example some African American Church’s and their Gospel Music. Such isn’t popular in Southern Ontario but it’s a part of their culture perhaps in Georgia. There’s nothing wrong with it. Nothing.