Monday, November 06, 2006

The influence of Pentacostal/Charismatic Christians on our church services

I know it's been a very long time since I've blogged about anything, and I apologize to those who've been waiting to read something new. I've thought a lot about what I wanted to post on this blog, and I've got a few stories for you. This is one of several, but it's one that explains a lot about what's going on in even our LCMS churches.

I got this story from the National wire service at work on October 5. It got me thinking: So that's why some LCMS churches have "happy clappy" worship services, praise bands, the Ablaze! movement, Promise Keepers, Heritage Keepers, etc. Our churches have lost track of what it means to be Lutheran, because they're paying too much attention to what the Pentacostals, Charismatics and Methodists are doing.

Without further adieu, here is the story to which I am referring:

WASHINGTON (AP) A new ten-nation survey of Pentecostal and charismatic Christians shows they are deeply influencing the Roman Catholic and mainstream Protestant churches and are poised to make a big impact on global affairs.

Pentecostals and charismatics are considered the fastest-growing stream of Christianity worldwide.

The poll by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life found that ``spirit-filled'' Christians, who speak in tongues and believe in healing through prayer, comprise at least half the population of Brazil, Guatemala and Kenya, 44 percent of Filipinos and nearly one-fourth of U-S citizens.

The study also found that charismatic and Pentecostal Christians increasingly are willing to bring their values into public debates, which could shape government policies in the years ahead.

And we wonder why our churches are so screwed up! It's not entirely President Kieschnick's fault, although he is certainly not blameless.


Kobra said...

Does the BoC address the "gifts?" Is this an area of adiaphora?

The Terrible Swede said...

Kobra, I'll answer any questions you have.

But first, what specific gifts are you talking about?

Cool rifle, BTW. I've not noticed your profile pic for some time.

Nick said...

I don't wholeheartedly subscribe to the (non-demoninational)Promise Keepers, or the (LCMS) Ablaze! movement (although they do have some laudable ideals). I do, however, think that you are trying to generalize many things that don't necessarily belong in the same category. I agree that Promise Keepers, Ablaze!, etc. have issues, however, I do not feel that new or different styles of worship are bad for the church. One question I would like to see addressed is:

What does it mean to worship like a Lutheran?

Tradition is a wonderful and comforting thing, unless it overshadows the reason for worship. Ritual is great unless it becomes "going through the motions."

What is wrong with clapping in church? If that is how someone wants to praise God, wonderful. Read Psalm 47, specifically verse 1 Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy.

Second, what is wrong with a praise band? The idea of a praise band seems reasonably clear in Psalm 150: 1 Praise the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens. 2 Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness. 3 Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre, 4 praise him with tambourine and dancing, praise him with the strings and flute, 5 praise him with the clash of cymbals, praise him with resounding cymbals. 6 Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD.

Worship does not have to be page 158 to honor God. Matthew 18:20 For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.

Mrs. T. Swede said...

Nick, I'm going to attempt to answer some of your questions. (Others, note that Nick is my brother-in-law, and so some of what I say may contain a bit of humor and sarcasm.)

I agree that there are some redeeming qualities to the various programs like Promise Keepers/Heritage Keepers (although I'm not as familiar with those because they're mostly for people who are 20 years older than me), but I have serious issues with Ablaze. One of the issues I have is that the numbers of people the program says its "saving" is inflated: most are already Christians. Also, it has a background in a theology of glory, decision theology, etc., which we, as Lutherans, do not subscribe to. We, instead, subscribe to the Theology of the Cross, which states that we have been saved by Christ at His death on the Cross.

Also (and here comes a bit of sarcasm), if you want to have clapping, dancing, and a praise band as part of your Sunday worship services, why not have your services in a theatre or in a dance hall where all of those attributes are likely to be found anyway?

Your statement that "Tradition is a wonderful and comforting thing, unless it overshadows the reason for worship. Ritual is great unless it becomes 'going through the motions,' is a good one. I agree wholeheartedly with it. No arguments. But we don't need to have a dance hall-style worship service in order to get people's attention. Then, we lose sight of the reason we go to church, and that is to receive God's Word and be served by His Body and Blood in the Sacrament.

Good observations and good questions, though. Thanks for stopping by! :)