On Judging Shai Linne and His Beef with False Teachers

shai linneWell, this is kind of a cap off post from this week’s activities and final thoughts on Shai Linne’s Fal$e Teacher$. If you don’t know about it, Shai is a Christian hip hop artist who is unashamedly Reformed. He blasted what has been labeled prosperity teaching (though there is actually a mix of positions represented)  in this single cut from his album, which was released April 9, 2013. I wrote a couple of articles over at Parchment and Pen here.

On Shai Linne and Judging False Teachers

Does Prosperity Teaching Deny the Gospel?

Having come out of those circles of the teaching represented by those on his list, I expected full well the backlash that many would have against the song. Primarily, I expected it because of a type of discernment that would be employed according to ‘what I feel in my spirit’.  It is a subjective reliance on intuition that in many cases does not submit to an objective criteria. It’s not that this type of discernment ignores the bible but that the bible itself is not the criteria for evaluation.

Of course, those that have embraced the teaching represented on that list and use this type of discernment will have problems with Shai Linne and his song. He is challenging the very thing that that leads to acceptance of the teaching in the first place. Now I’m not saying it is the only reason for opposition, but if this the basis for which his song is evaluated than naturally there are issues. Continue reading

More on Relevance…I’m Not the Only One, Who Thinks So

Jill PaquetteOne of my favorite CDs is a self-titled work from a little known Canadian artist named Jill Paquette. The song that I’ve like the most is titled Not the Only One. Musically it’s good in an organic kind of way. But more than that the heart behind the lyrics. She’s saying something that’s hard and disruptive and knows she’s not alone. Check it out.

I have those things that make me restless: tensions from observations, feelings that something of substance has gotten lost in mass popularity, misplaced focus that detracts from the real stuff of life, Jesus, the gospel church and genuine fellowship. When it gets under my skin and I just gotta say it. Sometimes I put myself out there and am relieved when others chime in and I learn that I’m not the only one who thinks so.

Following my post last week on cultural relevance, I’ve encountered some really cool posts that seemed to have come out of the woodwork basically echoing the same thing.

Out of the ones that have emerged, I really appreciated The Beauty of Being Irrelevant. The author points out that the most relevant thing we can do is be ourselves and bring the counter-cultural truths of the gospel to light. It’s ok to be different, it really is.

Why Relevancy is Completely Irrelevant succinctly brings this central truth home, “If the church would just give people what they need, then we would be eternally relevant.”

Top 10 Reasons Our Kids Leave the Church cites relevance as a reason. Trying to be hip and cool to relate.  But it has by and large failed.

But here’s what else I think that all these articles highlight and don’t think I’m the only one. People ache for hope. They encounter struggles, dilemmas and temptations. They want answers, real answers with substance. They may initially be attracted to the coolness of relevancy but when it doesn’t address what they need, they lose interest. To counter that with more relevance will ultimately fail. And that’s where the contemporary church has erred because it’s not what we need.

We need Jesus and his body and a place to grow and rest. We need the fuel of God’s word. We need that explained with clarity, not gimmicks or cute stories.  Give people the gospel and genuine discipleship and let the Lord do his work.  The ones who have not trusted in Christ will trust in him because that’s who we’ve presented and the Father woos them. The ones who have already trust will learn to trust in him more. And people are not stupid. They’ll ultimately pick up the disingenuousness  of contrived methods to attract them. And they will weary of superficiality.

I can only hope that we step back and start assessing how much faith we’re putting into shiny buildings, slick methods and marketing techniques. And maybe stop it and start trusting in the power of the Holy Spirit to do his job as we just stick to basics and give people what they really need.

And I’m not the only one, who thinks so.

How Should We Handle the Worship Music Wars?

For some odd reason, the topic of worship music has been in my face today. I came across this quote from a Facebook friend.

“As a listener I can only speak for myself, but I find that more challenging music can better communicate the sense of wonder and awe appropriate to a religious setting. If I want to sing a bunch of stale, bland pop songs, I’ll have a campfire, not go to church. That probably puts me in the minority, but there must be others. And I worry about the cumulative impact of always choosing the lowest common denominator of music as a medium of worship. It drives people like me to get their kicks elsewhere, and it sets your average churchgoer into a pattern of expecting emotional feedback from worship, which isn’t the point.” Jordan Bloom

Admittedly, I am not familiar with Jordan Bloom but I appreciate what he has to say here, except for the “emotional feedback”. If reflection on the character and work of the triune God doesn’t make me emotional then something is wrong.  But surely there is much to be said for music that accurately reflects Christian truths in a robust way.   A rejection of hymns dismisses doctrinally rich music that can fuel the fabric of our faith. So I appreciated what Stephen Miller had to say in this blog post, Why New Churches Should Sing Old Songs. I for one appreciate the old hymns and what they convey. Continue reading

Why I Can’t Only Imagine

Since my CD player has been busted in my car for awhile, I’m reliant on the radio or my own voice for listening pleasure. Every so often Where the Streets Have No Name by U2 will come on. Without fail, it sends me to another place…the future, the new heaven and earth where God will dwell with his people and the Son has returned and set everything right (Revelation 21:1-5).

Interestingly, I Can Only Imagine by MercyMe doesn’t quite have the same impact. I’ve been contemplating why this is the case. One reason is that it sets a sedate tone. Now when I read Revelation 21, I get the picture of a celebration. Think about it, no more death or mourning or pain. God dwelling among his people. I’m sorry but I don’t here a soft piano and violins.

Music is a powerful medium. The composition of the arrangement of notes and instruments can set a tone without using words. It is a reflection of our creator God in whom his creatures and their creations reflect. The music of Where the Streets Have No Name creates a celebratory tone of enthusiasm with just the music alone. The words only emphasize what the music is conveying, a song about the celebration in eternity. Continue reading