Monday, July 12, 2010

Who’s Driving the Verbs?

If you’re an Issues, Etc. fan, you recognize the question. It’s one of the questions Pastor Wilken asks when he’s doing a sermon analysis. Hopefully, the sermon contains Jesus, that He’s “driving the verbs,” and the actions He’s performing in the sermon are those such as forgiving sins, not those such as making your life better.

The live feed for the beginning of today’s LCMS Convention included a song sung by the “praise team.” It was Jeremy Camp’s song “You’re Worth of My Praise.”

I didn’t catch the whole song, but here’s the lyrics as found on the internet:

I will give you all my worship
I will give you all my praise
You alone, I long to worship
You alone, are worthy of my praise

I will worship, with all of my heart
I will praise you, with all of my strength
I will seek you, all of my days
I will follow, I'll follow all of your ways

I will give you all my worship
I will give you all my praise
You alone, I long to worship
You alone, are worthy of my praise
You are worthy of my praise

I will bow down, and I'll hail you as king
I will serve you, I will give you everything
I will lift up my eyes to your throne
I will trust you, I will trust you alone

I will give you all my worship
I will give you all my praise
You alone, I long to worship
You alone, are worthy of my praise

I will give you all my worship
I will give you all my praise
You alone, I long to worship
You alone, are worthy of my praise

You are worthy, You are worthy
You are worthy of my praise

Oh, I will give you all my worship
I will give you all my praise
Well, You alone, I long, I long to worship
Well, you alone, are worthy of my praise

Well, I will give you all my worship
I will give you all my praise
You alone, I long to worship
Well, you alone, are worthy of my praise
You are worthy of my praise

Who’s driving the verbs? Certainly not Jesus. This song is characteristic of the praise songs sung in many LCMS congregations. It’s a song about me and what I’m doing, not a song about Jesus and what He’s done and continues to do, forgiving sin and sustaining and holding all things together.

The opening “church service” at the convention, which included Holy Communion, was called a “Worship Service,” not a “Divine Service.” “Worship Service” is an appropriate title for a theology which believes that you go to church primarily to serve God, rather than the other way around. Hopefully you understand that a church service should be primarily about God showering us with His good gifts.

Where are we as a Synod? It’s disconcerting when what we’re singing and how we label things both point to a theology which is not our own. Perhaps some of what we’re doing at this convention, and how we’re trying to restructure the Synod, are related to this adoption of foreign theology as our own. While you may argue that polity is an adiaphoron, it is not necessarily theologically neutral. What you believe influences your practice, and vice versa. We are on the brink of making decisions which, for all intents and purposes, are irreversible. Now is the last chance to sit down and consider how our actions will influence what we believe. Vote wisely.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sounds like the "All About Me" parody on Pirate.

In time, I think we need to revisit that altar--a TV screen? That speaks volumes (no pun intended) about where our leadership has gone. It's a metaphor for much that is wrong with worship--the medium has become the message. More later.

Johannes

Snoopy said...

Interesting point of view. I'm not sure I agree though. Take a look at the Psalms. Sure, there are lots of Psalms about what God does, but there are also plenty of Psalms where the psalmist is describing how and why he will worship God. Take Psalm 98. Yes, there's a couple verses describing what God has done for us, but the main point of the psalm is to describe HOW and WHY the psalmist will "sing to the Lord a new song".

Anonymous said...

Snoopy -- I must respectfully disagree with your reading of Psalm 98. The Psalmist is praising and thanking God, but he does so in response to what God has first done for him. That realization is totally missing from "You're Worthy of My Praise." "I will ... I will ... I will" is the only message we get from this song. Like so many contemporary praise songs, it's all about I, I and I instead of God, God, God.

Anonymous said...

Psalm 98 is a great example of a song that *isn't* me-centered. It's only 9 verses long; verses 1-3 focus on God's work, and verse 9 ends with God's work. The rest of the psalm is an expression of appropriate response to this salvation of God. Talking about our own acts of worship without ever giving a "why" isn't praise. You have to praise someone FOR something, or else it could just be construed as your emotions or opinions talking. That is just what most of CCM has become.

Anonymous said...

Confirmed in the LCMS, trustee of an LCMS, had three children baptised into the LCMS- and let me say that your view of "You Are Worthy of My Praise" sickens me.

There are 158 instances of "I will praise you" in the Bible- do you even have Psalms in yours?

Your ability to extract dogma out of thin air in spite of what the Word actually says would have made a great Pharisee or indulgance-peddler.