Friday, October 12, 2007

Brian McLaren, Worship, and the Churches of Christ

Last Friday, the staff at Otter Creek had the chance to sit down with Brian McLaren for a couple of hours. We got to talk about a lot of things about the direction of our own congregation and some internal things, but he said some very interesting things about the Churches of Christ as well, that I want to float out there for discussion.

One of the things McLaren talked about was the instrumental music issue. McLaren comes from a sister group to the Churches of Christ called the Plymouth Brethren. This group began in Great Britain about the same time as the Churches of Christ and it seems that the progenitors of both movements were reading from the same playbook. The Brethren are non-denominational, non-instrumental, and trying to restore the first century church. The main difference that that they don't focus on baptism to the extent that Churches of Christ do. In dealing with the issue of music, McLaren basically said that the argument is dumb. Now it's being dumb doesn't stop it from being discussed a lot, particularly if you've been over at Mike Cope's blog in the last week or so. McLaren mad the point that HOW we sing is not nearly as important as WHAT we sing. As a result, while we sing about the relationship about "God and Me" and that's good to sing about, to sing about it to the exclusion of communal songs ("God and We") as well as songs about God's Justice in the world.

Now what this seems is not only that arguing for acapella is dumb, arguing for instrumental music is just as dumb. Look, I could make a Biblical case for instrumental worship in the New Testament under the new convenant (Did the disciples worship at the Temple after Jesus' death and resurrection? Yep. Were instruments used at the Temple? Most likely. Ergo...) However, what's the point? I don't believe that worship with musical instruments is an issue that will decide my salvation, so I'm OK with it either way.

What does disturb me is people who do think my salvation depends on it. However, I also know that any discussion or argument or debate that I might get into someone about it is going to be pointless. Someone is not going to convince me otherwise and I'm not going to convince them. I choose to worship with a congregation that embraces both traditions, but I recognize also that what we sing is much more important than how we sing it.

Next week, why Brian McLaren thinks progressive Churches of Christ should stop trying to be like "evangelicals."


Scott said...

True. So true.

98.3% of the crap we argue about is dumb.

Brandon Scott said...

sometimes though I think even the discussion is impossible to have. It's like discussing Crieve Hall housing with someone from China. It's perspective, paradigm, background, hermanuetic, and baggage which all combines to be one of the most frustrating conversations EVER. I think what's even more frustrating is that we go into those conversations expecting to be understood and I'm not sure we can even have that discussion without being agreeing about other things first. ya know? I mean...Mike's blog comments about wore me out. It makes me so frustrated how people love to hi-jack his blog. It seems like it happens about everyday. The times it happens the least are when he posts sports scores or predictions and even then people seem to want to steer it back to other arguements. Kinda like the lady who went off last week griping at Mike for not getting onto his blog readers who supposedly changed all the names on the Christian Chron website. I mean...seriously, people.

gavin richardson said...

i wanted to put in some sarcastic comment about not being a real church or real salvation.. it just wasn't happening.

Thomas+ said...

Hey Phil,

I'm sure this debate is important to people in the middle of it. But, speaking as someone on the outside, it sounds completely stupid. But, you knew that.

Justin said...

"progressive churches of christ should stop trying to be like 'evangelicals"

A - freakin - men.

You can take your George Bush worshipping, seeker sensitive, statist, personal salvation and go have yourself a little party. That looks nothing like what Jesus calls us to, and frankly, it makes me ill.

That may be a little judgemental, but I'm in suburban Birmingham and I've seen way too many "No Abortion" bumper stickers paired with "W" and "supporting the war" stickers. I frankly cannot understand how a Christian can advocate for war. It seems completely against what Christ taught.

Anonymous said...

What possible difference does it make what Brian McLaren thinks?

Phil said...

Interesting question, anonymous. Who are you and why do you care why I care about what Brian McLaren says?

TCS said...

I said what Thomas+ said at cope's blog. I missed all the comments until you redirected me. But man who would have the time to read all that crap. (Sorry Brandon, I guess you did) McLaren is where I first learned about the Brethren (although they are in TN) Since then have met several who came out of that group. Very similar but not the same.

Amy said...

It is frustrating and dumb. And I am tired of these discussions, too. Brian's point is right on that it's what we are singing that is so much more important than how we are singing it.

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