For some time now Adventism has been engaged in a worship war. Not too long ago it has reached the front steps of Haitian Adventism in North America and made its presence known. The conflict is base on differing views on the styles and methods of liturgy–”a fixed set of ceremonies, words, etc., that are used during public worship in a religion” (Webster). Since Liturgy, by definition, is already established, the arrival of a different one automatically presents an issue. The problem is not necessarily that there is a conflict, but what needs to be addressed in order to resolve the conflict.
Many have set out to resolve the conflict by submitting theological perspectives that they believe support their position. This is often found amongst the proponents of traditional liturgy. They are correct to begin the discussion on the principles of worship that can be obtained through sound biblical exegesis. However, there is a tendency to stretch the meaning of a passage to support pre-supposed assumptions.
Proponents of emerging liturgy are not well known for basing their stance on biblical perspectives. Those that do claim a biblical stance seem to also overstate their arguments like their counterparts. It almost seems as if the argument is base solely on the need for something different.
Clearly these are over-generalized categorizations of the two groups. Both sides do contain individuals who have substantial arguments for their positions. However, there is no end in sight to the war. Instead, an augmentation is on the horizon. At this juncture I’ve decided to voice my opinion concerning why this conversation between the two opposing sides is necessary and what I believe is the cause behind the rise of the emerging liturgy, new way of doing corporate worship. My focus will be on new music genres into the divine worship hour(s).
The very thought of speaking about the way corporate worship is done can put a damper on things. The assumption behind the dropping of countenances is that the discussion will result in the stoppage of the emerging liturgy or modification of the traditional. Many have found it comfortable to take a neutral position where the emerging and the traditional can function together in the same place. In terms of the music some have argued that the best way to deal with the issue is by mixing the traditional with the new.
This laissez-faire stance is problematic. This is not said concerning their stance but in their handling of a major dividing issue. The worship wars can cause division in congregations. Anything that escalate to the point of potential division should face a great deal of scrutiny by all that are involved. The present church should not only be concerned about itself but also the impact that its decisions will have on how future generations respond.
I don/t believe that the new way of doing worship has it’s origin within Adventism. This is not to say that it never occurred in our past or that there weren’t individuals within our midst who wanted to do so. What I am saying is that in recent North American Haitian Adventism context the reason behind the emerging liturgy is a probably a desire by our young people (millennials) to have a worship setting like unto that of Protestantism. This is reinforced by the desire of some adults in the church who found the new way appealing.
We are getting the way we do worship from those with a completely different theological system then we have. What is motivating the change? Is it discoveries concerning God in scripture or is it simply base on what is seen? Protestant theology not only affects the words in their songs but also their music. For example a church that believes in speaking unintelligible tongues will have worship with music that reflects and/or allows for this.
It is only logical that if we are going to borrow from them that we are true with ourselves concerning why we are borrowing from them. Man is unable to see the heart but God knows if the borrower is doing so base on the conviction that the song is pointing to God or simply the “feel-good” affect of the song. Throwing God’s name in it doesn’t make it a godly song. It also doesn’t help that most of the singers that are being copied look like R&B artists.
Which brings me to my next point: looks like R&B, sounds like R&B, is R&B? I think this is a fair conclusion. The emerging liturgy in Protestantism seems to mimic the music and stage presence of R&B. It is mixing pop culture with Christianity. In this mixing the main focus seems to be on individual expression, excitement, emotionalism, and performance. This is a scary way of doing worship. Often times the emphasis seems to be on fun. Worship is not about how much fun we can have or how good we can feel.
By taking R&B styling and bringing it inside the church we participate in the secularization of corporate worship. This then lowers the standards of individual worshippers in their beliefs about how to react to secular society. Allowing our youths to be expose to this will eventually leave us with a generation that is very lax on principles. What kind of church will they have if we don’t instruct them properly?
I do admit that there are elements in my musing that are not altogether correct. For instance, my comments on how the new worship style got in Haitian Adventism is purely a guess. However, it is here and needs to be scrutinize. I do believe that we are borrowing from Protestantism, and that part of the reason it is appealing to us is that we are also becoming secularized.
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