The Worship War: Civil Wars

The Worship War series has (more or less) followed the Biblical Narrative, as different key battles in the Worship War occurred. Now we are going to turn to the present. Or more perhaps more appropriately take a look at worship history briefly. Check out Jubilate II by Donald Hustad for more detail on all of this. For the first 300 years of Church history Christians were, more or less, forced to worship in secret and in small house style churches. There are a few exceptions, but for the most part Christianity was considered treason because it rejected the Imperial Cult of Rome. In the mid-300’s Constantine Emperor or Rome was converted to Christianity and it then became the State Religion. Basilicas were made into churches, and Cathedrals began to be built, we thus have the beginning of the Roman Catholic Church. They, for the most part, ran the show in the western world of Worship. Interestingly enough, Eastern Orthodox worship is virtually unchanged, with the exception of language, for almost 2000 years now. Around the mid 1500’s we have Luther and his 95 Thesis that challenged the Catholic Churches authority. After the reformation took place (inadvertently started by Luther) many different traditions sprang up. Some adhering very much to a similar style as Catholic worship, others rejecting singing in church. In a way a contemporary movement began, mainly allowing worship in the native language as opposed to Latin. The main songs sung were Psalms put to modern well-known tunes. About 100 years later hymns began to appear, though were controversial. Hymns then were the norm for about 300 years (that statement is very simplistic, and the history is much more complex, but this is a blog and I don’t want to go super long here, just give a quick over view.)

This brief history shows us one thing, worship stayed very constant for long periods of time, and then was changed or challenged. That change then becomes the norm that is again challenged after a long long time. However, more recently (1970’s) the Jesus Movement challenged the norm of hymns. The free spirit of the Jesus people drove them to write songs that fit their culture, more Rock like in nature, with their own language. The tension between those that love hymns and contemporary worship music has stayed since. While the ‘style’ of contemporary worship music has changed with the modern pop music, for the most part, the tension remains. Since the 70s worship has changed more frequently than over the first 1900 years Christian worship existed.

Now in many places the battle over hymns (or traditional) vs. modern (or contemporary) as the proper means for worship is in full swing. This issue has divided churches and denominations. In a sense this has become the Worship War battle that is internal and not against the true Enemy, Satan. What caused this Civil War to break out? At its core there are two issues. (1) Self-entitlement, this attitude kills the true heart of worship and makes worship about the worshiper (thus causing the worshiper to become an idol) and not about God. (2) Lack of worship education. The church, as a whole, does not understand what worship truly is. I’m not saying that I do, I don’t understand it either. The problem is that worshipers see worship as music and nothing more. It is up to the Church to educate its congregation on what worship truly is and what actions it fully encompasses.

I am striving to do my part through this blog, I hope that I do so clearly, humbly, and do not muddy waters that should otherwise be clear. As a blogger I ask that if you believe I am being over-zealous or arrogant in my presentation to call me on it. That is the last thing that I wish to do. My goal is that the entire Church, regardless of tradition, background or denomination will worship God as fully, truly and authentically as possible!

Psalm 150

Praise the LORD!
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heaven!

2 Praise him for his mighty works;
praise his unequaled greatness!

3 Praise him with a blast of the ram’s horn;
praise him with the lyre and harp!

4 Praise him with the tambourine and dancing;
praise him with strings and flutes!

5 Praise him with a clash of cymbals;
praise him with loud clanging cymbals.

6 Let everything that breathes sing praises to the LORD!
Praise the LORD!

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