A Farmer Explains Church Music

FarmerAn old farmer went to the city one weekend and attended the big city church. He came home and his wife asked him how it was. “Well,” said the farmer, “It was good. They did something different, however. They sang praise choruses instead of hymns.” “Praise choruses,” said his wife, “What are those?” “Oh, they’re okay. They’re sort of like hymns, only different,” said the farmer. “Well, what’s the difference?” asked his wife. The farmer said, “Well, it’s like this – If I were to say to you: Martha, the cows are in the corn,’ well, that would be a hymn. If, on the other hand, I were to say to you…

 

Martha Martha, Martha, Oh, Martha, MARTHA, MARTHA,
the cows, the big cows, the brown cows, the black cows,
the white cows, the black and white cows,
the COWS, COWS, COWS are in the corn,
are in the corn, are in the corn, are in the corn,
the CORN, CORN, CORN,

 

Then, if I were to repeat the whole thing two or three times, well that would be a praise chorus.”

As luck would have it, the exact same Sunday a young, new Christian from the city church attended the small town church. He came home and his wife asked him how it was. “Well,” said the young man, “It was good. They did something different, however. They sang hymns instead of regular songs.” “Hymns,” said his wife, “What are those?”  “Oh, they’re okay. They’re sort of like regular songs, only different,” said the young man. “Well, what’s the difference?” asked his wife.

The young man said, “Well it’s like this – If I were to say to you, Martha, the cows are in the corn,’ well, that would be a regular song. If, on the other hand, I were to say to you:  

Oh Martha, dear Martha, hear thou my cry
Inclines thine ear to the words of my mouth.
Turn thou thy whole wondrous ear by and by
To the righteous, inimitable, glorious truth.
For the way of the animals who can explain
There in their heads is no shadow of sense,
Hearkenest they in God’s sun or his rain
Unless from the mild, tempting corn they are fenced.
Yea those cows in glad bovine, rebellious delight,
Have broke free their shackles, their warm pens eschewed.
Then goaded by minions of darkness and night
They all my mild Chilliwack sweet corn have chewed.
So look to that bright shining day by and by,
Where all foul corruptions of earth are reborn.
Where no vicious animal makes my soul cry
And I no longer see those foul cows in the corn.
 

Then, if I were to do only verses one, three and four and do a key change on the last verse, well that would be a hymn.”

49 Responses to A Farmer Explains Church Music

  1. Matt S says:

    I nominate this post as an “Instant Classic”! Hillarious.

  2. It’s not new, but it is a classic.

  3. danielbalc says:

    That’s why hymn only churches fancy themselves “more cerebral”. You need a lexicon to worship.

  4. Alex says:

    I’m just glad we have the option to go to a small town church or the city church.

  5. Echo_ohcE says:

    I don’t understand why a Christian minister would make fun of how Christians worship. If you think choruses are better, and that’s how you worship God, you are made fun of for it here, and mocked. If you think hymns are better, you are made fun of for that too. So as it turns out, every TRUE believer is mocked here on this thread, precisely FOR worshiping God. Whether choruses are better or hymns is of no consequence, because BOTH are mocked here for their worship of God. What’s next? Will you make fun of people who insist on a profession of faith prior to baptism and then proceed to make fun of those who don’t, just to make sure that you mock the true faithful, whoever they may be? Will you mock the Reformed view of the Supper, followed by the Lutheran, then the Roman, and finally the Zwinglian, just to ensure that whoever has actually gotten it right is mocked for it? I cannot help but wonder as to why you would do such a thing as this. Perhaps it is because you are quite pleased with yourself, and how you somehow are better than everyone else, because you sit back and say that these things are of no importance. I don’t understand how someone who claims to be a minister of the gospel can so casually mock the people of God for their beliefs. It dumbfounds me. It would at least make sense if you only mocked one side or the other for being wrong, because then you wouldn’t be intentionally mocking the people who get it right, even though you make no statement about who that might be. It boggles my mind, and makes no sense what you have done.

    Will you next make fun of preachers who preach fire and brimstone sermons, and then proceed to make fun of those who preach about the grace of Christ, and then make fun of those who preach moralistic sermons, followed by those who preach self-help nonsense, just to be sure that every pastor in every pulpit is mocked for what he is doing?

    What on earth goes through your mind?

    Echo_ohcE

  6. Alex says:

    Echo, If you read the whole thing again it is clearly making fun of people who claim that true worship is Hyms, and Hymns only. God doesn’t care how we worship as long as it is “in spirit and in truth.

    Did you really not get it? It must have went right over your head.You see Echo, as Charismatic Christians we hear a lot of smack from our own “Brothers in Christ” who believe that Corporate worship should only be with Hymns. It’s just a shame there is no scritures to back that thinking up. I say it’s a matter of preference that’s all. You must really have it out for Albino. Unfortunate misunderstanding.

  7. Echo, LIGHTEN UP! This was a JOKE! I love both hymns and choruses. The whole idea of country people singing only hymns and city people singing only choruses is tongue-in-cheek. If I tell a lightbulb joke, it doesn’t mean I am against light bulbs. Have you ever heard of laughiing at yourself, or using self-deprecating humor?

    Whew…

  8. Gregg says:

    Echo,
    I just started in this blog so I do not know anything about your thoughts. Quick question: I do not know if you are being sarcastic or are serious. I would hate to assume you are being serious, but based on others responses I think you are being taken seriously.
    Am I to understand that Christians cannot joke? Or would you prefer they divide themselves by attacking people who do not argee with them? I mean hey lets chose sides on the worship debate then mock those who disagree with us. Here is a worship song we can all get behind, “They will know we are Christians by our love!”
    Albino Hayford said it well, it is light hearted humor that only hyper sensitive people would take offense to.
    Is it that you truely find offense in this joke, or is it that a minister said it?

  9. Matt S says:

    Echo,

    Take a deep breath…

    This is not one side of the fence making fun of the other.

    This is just poking fun at how ridiculous ALL Christians can be when they are dogmatic about matters of choice.

    Unless you are going to tell me that I should be singing hymns if I want to be obedient to God, then there is nothing to see here, move along.

  10. Echo_ohcE says:

    I know he’s making fun of ALL Christians. That’s my point. He’s making fun of ALL Christians precisely FOR their worship practices!

    I really don’t care if you think hymns are best or if you think choruses are best. That’s not the point here. The point is that this is making fun of ALL Christians for how they worship God.

    And furthermore, he’s making fun of them for thinking that it’s important. The takeaway is not some lighthearted little gag. The takeaway is that Christians are silly and worship is silly.

    And like you said, it’s a matter of preference, that’s the takeaway, and anyone who thinks their “preference” is important is to be made fun of, as if they were trying to outlaw chocolate ice cream in favor of vanilla.

    I got news for you: how we worship God is not a matter of preference.

    Heb 12:28 Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe,
    Heb 12:29 for our God is a consuming fire.

    How can the author to the Hebrews talk about “acceptable” worship? What makes worship acceptable? Where is the standard for what makes worship acceptable? Oh, he says it right there. “With reverence and awe”. Does that make worship acceptable? Does this look like preference anymore?

    I’m not taking a stance on this hymns versus choruses thing, because that’s not my point. My point is that whoever you are, if you are actually a student of the Word of God, you’ll find that it tells us quite a lot about worship. To think that worship can be done however WE want, as long as we’re sincere is not an idea that comes from the Bible, because it doesn’t say that anywhere.

    This notion that “our God is a consuming fire” is a reference to what happened to the sons of Aaron. They brought “strange fire” before the Lord. They worshiped him according to their own imaginations. They were probably quite sincere in doing this, even as the people of Israel sincerely worshiped the golden calf, saying, “This is the god that brought you out of Egypt.” But they were sincerely wrong. The sons of Aaron were burned to death before the Lord for worshiping according to their own ideas, and the writer to the Hebrews is REMINDING us of that – and it’s in the NEW TESTAMENT.

    Now you can think whatever you want about what the BIBLE says about worship, but you had BETTER come to terms with this: you don’t get to worship God however you feel like. The Bible says SOMETHING about how to worship God, and you had better give it some thought, whatever it says. Worship is NOT a matter of preference. It’s a matter of OBEDIENCE. And God doesn’t think it’s a light hearted joke. He takes it very seriously, and has taken peoples’ lives over it many times. You better give that some thought. All of you.

    Gregg,

    Serious as a heart attack. Serious as the sons of Aaron being consumed with fire before the altar of God because they worshiped however they felt like. Serious as the Israelites being slaughtered by the Levites for worshiping the golden calf. Serious as the 2nd commandment. Serious as Isaiah, who before God said, “Woe is me! I am undone!”

    You might think it’s sad that I take it all so seriously. But you’re right, part of it is that Albino is a minister. I guess I’m just sick and tired, even appalled at how regularly he seems to take even the MOST SERIOUS things about our faith in a light hearted, who cares kind of way. The only thing he seems to take seriously is not accepting labels. I guess I’m just sick of it, and I cannot be silent about it. Pardon me for thinking that a minister ought to take seriously what God takes seriously.

    Echo

  11. Matt S says:

    Echo,

    First off,

    This is not making fun of ALL Christians and how they worship God; this is making fun of ALL Christians and how they relate to each other in regards to worship preference. Can you see the distinction?

    Second,

    No one said we can worship God anyway we want. Where did you get this? I will speak for everyone I know on these blogs and say everyone operates with complete reverance and awe when in the worship service and it has nothing to do with the type of songs being sung.

    I will give you the benefit of doubt on this one and assume you are misunderstanding what some are saying. However, part of me thinks you are trying to start a fire because you have not been in a good argument of late.

    And another part of me thinks you are stopping just short of saying that those of us who sing “choruses” instead of hymns are not operating in reverence and awe. (there is a fire you can stoke)

  12. Gregg says:

    Echo,
    I read all the former blogs. I have a personal question for you. What and with whom did you serve? Aside from the Marines. I assume you were in Somalia?
    Now on to the blog. You are right! our worship of God is not to be taken lightly. One of the things God says he hates in the Prophets is false worship. The trouble is false worship looks like real worship. Laughing about ourselves is not false worship, laughing about how we worship is not an abomination to the LORD, and it is most certainly not idoltry (like the golden calf)
    Maybe Matt is right Devil Dog, are you just looking for a fight. Because if you want one I am sure there are people in this group who can give you a real topic, not one generated by misconceptions.

  13. Gregg says:

    Let me add a caveat. I am not saying we laugh ABOUT worship, I am saying we can laugh, along with God, about how important we think OUR structures of worship are. Keep in mind that the harshest words Jesus spoke were to the Pharisees, who thought they had their worship right.

  14. Echo_ohcE says:

    The Pharisees, of course, being wrong.

    But that’s just my point. It’s not OUR structures here that we’re laughing at. It’s the God given structures.

    If you think choruses should be sung at all, it’s because God commanded it. If God hasn’t commanded it, you shouldn’t be doing it.

    If you think hymns should be sung at all, it’s because God commanded it. If God hasn’t commanded it, you shouldn’t be doing it.

    I’m saying that we worship in the way we do, whoever we are, because God has commanded us to worship that way.

    I think it is in incredibly poor taste to LAUGH at people’s attempts at obedience to God by worshiping how they do.

    I’m not advocating making fun of chorus singers or hymn singers. I did say above that that would at LEAST be making fun of those you think is wrong, were you to choose a side. But by making fun of all, it amounts to making fun of worship, and I find it incredibly, incredibly distasteful. I’m not just picking a fight. I actually think this is important. And like I said, I’m sick of Albino treating important things as if they were a joke. I’m tired of it.

    I know this thread was supposed to be a joke. Well – not funny! And I honestly and sincerely believe that God is not amused either. I think it’s in poor taste and irreverent. I find it hugely offensive. Not because hymn singers are made fun of, but because ALL Christians are made fun of precisely for HOW they worship. Which side is right in the debate is irrelevant for this thread, because all sides are equally mocked. I find it appalling.

    Gregg, I’m not a Marine anymore. I was never in Somalia. I’m not sure why you thought that. Perhaps you read where I said I had been to Africa somewhere. I have been to Djibouti.

    E

  15. Echo_ohcE says:

    Matt,

    You said:
    “No one said we can worship God anyway we want. Where did you get this? I will speak for everyone I know on these blogs and say everyone operates with complete reverance and awe when in the worship service and it has nothing to do with the type of songs being sung.”

    – Echo:
    I find this self contradictory Matt.

    E

  16. Gregg says:

    Echo,
    OK, I hear where you are coming from we are commanded to take worship seriously and I fully agree. I think you get on weak ground when you state God commands one type or another. However, I think you are saying he commands our worship.
    We are commanded to make a joyful noise. Lets take Albinos possible lack of reverence out of the emotional mix (seeing how I am new here, I do not know if you are right or not, so i’ll conceed that he might be.) So in the interest of understanding could you outline specifically how we are Biblical to worship. Do you use a rams horn for your call to worship?
    From my perspective, we are to make a joyful noise. why? For one reason God is a joyful God. and one with a great sense of humor. If you wish to dispute that fact, check out the sacrasm and irony He uses throughout the prophets.
    In your theology, is there a way to laugh at our silly structures, the weak ways we- with all our hearts, fall short of worshiping the creator of the universe? In spite our best intentions our righteousness is filthy rags. It is good to be reminded of it from time to time. Will you acknowledge that Albinos joke can help us be reminded of that?
    It is good to be reminded that we worship the Triune God, not the structures we put in place to worship Him. Personally, I think 1 Corinthians speaks to this whole issue very clearly.
    Thanks for taking the time,
    Gregg

  17. Matt S says:

    You did not get the joke, I am sure it is not the first time.

    The Christian walk does not need to be so serious all the time. There is room for self-deprecating humor and it is funny. Try and laugh once in a while.

  18. Alex says:

    Echo, I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “worship is a way of life” or “worship is a lifestyle” well It really is. I have to remind myself sometimes of this because we as humans put more emphasis on HOW we worship God on Sunday mornings when in actuality it ‘s our actions our thoughts, prayers and reading His Word that constitutes worship. That is the whole point of this hilarious post because we always think WE do it the “right” way. That is the essence of the humor. We need to be more tolerant of HOW others worship God and understand that maybe God designed it so we wouldn’t all worship the same exact way. There is freedom in Christ:

    “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”
    (Galatians 5:1).
    Isn’t God awesome?

  19. Echo_ohcE says:

    You guys are totally missing my point.

    Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that God says in his Word: thou shalt sing in the public worship of the Lord your God.

    Now let’s say further that HOW you sing isn’t important, but the fact THAT you sing is a command of Scripture. (I happen to think it is, but that’s not the point.) So let’s just pretend that God definitely commands us to sing in public worship.

    If God commands us to sing in public worship, and the people of God actually do this, then this “joke” is making fun of ALL CHRISTIANS EVERYWHERE precisely for HOW they obey God’s command.

    It’s like saying, hahaha, they’re obeying God’s commands – HA HA HA! Those silly Christians!

    No, I’m sorry, I don’t think it’s funny.

    E

  20. Alex says:

    Echo, I have had arguments within family that we should be singing ONLY hymns. That’s what is ridiculous!!!!! Apparently singing I Love You songs to God is too hokey for them. You want to talk about offensive to God, that’s offensive to God. It reminds me of when King David danced before the Lord and his own wife scoffed at him.
    Question for you Echo, when you are the Pastor of a Church are you going to encourage people to worship and express themselves the way they deem fit? In the corporate worship time at your Church will the members be free to lift their hands, dance in the aisles, or kneel before their Maker? I would really like to know what you envision for your Church.

  21. Echo, let’s just agree to disagree here.

  22. Echo_ohcE says:

    Alex,

    How come you still keep asking about the particulars of worship? I’m not talking about that. All I’m saying is, God commands us to sing. I’m NOT saying whether it’s hymns or choruses or something else. Whatever. The point is that God commands us to sing. Well, ALL THE SINGING that any American Christian does is made fun of. People who sing choruses are made fun of, and people who sing hymns are made fun of.

    Now look, if it HAD been just a joke about people who sing hymns, then it’s still in poor taste, but at LEAST it would be making fun of people for being stuck in their OWN ways. But this joke makes fun of anyone and everyone who sings praise and worship to God, precisely for the manner in which they do it.

    That’s what I’m saying is not funny.

    You are acting like hymns-only people were the only ones made fun of, and I’m a hymns-only guy, and therefore I was offended.

    NO – this is not what happened here. I’m not rehashing your family debates about what is and is not proper in worship. I’m offended that on this thread, in this post, Christians are being made fun of FOR WORSHIPING GOD. Maybe you don’t think that’s what Albino did, but I will NOT budge on the topic. What I think about worship is irrelevant, because I’m sticking up for those who sing choruses just as much as those who sing hymns, which in my mind accounts for everyone who is a Christian. All Christians are made fun of here for worshiping God.

    And all I’m saying is that that’s really, well, disgusting. Sorry.

    What I “envision” for “my” church? You don’t have a Presbyterian bone in your body, do you? I suppose you think that I just can’t wait to get my talons in a church and forbid that they do all this sort of thing you describe and do all sorts of wicked things to quench the Spirit, huh? I suppose you think that I want to go find a church that speaks in tongues and has a rock concert type worship service, and go in there and just ruin all their fun, right? That’s what you think I’m about, eh? Mean ol’ Echo, out to be mean to people and make their lives miserable and deny them all their fun party worship.

    First, a minister doesn’t have absolute control like that in a presbyterian church. There is always a body of elders who rule and govern the local church. If I wanted to change the worship practices at the church I was ordained at, I’d have to convince the elders, all of whom will be older and much more experienced than me for the next 20 years or so, to do it for me. That alone is a pretty tall order.

    Second, changing a church’s worship practices is a ridiculously difficult undertaking. For example, let’s say that the elders become convinced that having a candlelight service on Christmas Eve is a bad idea. (I know, you think that’s totally crazy, but honestly, do you CARE what I think about worship? It’s just an example.) Well, after the 5 or 10 YEARS it would probably take to convince the elders, because elders think about things very slowly and carefully, then you’ve got to deal with all the disappointment in the congregation, because so many look forward to the candles every year. Now you’ve got to carefully explain to them why you are no longer doing it, and you have to do so in such a way as to avoid making them so mad or embarrassed or whatever that they leave the church. Or at least you have to try.

    Trying to change a church’s worship practices is almost a sure fire guaranteed way to stir up controversy and lose members. Look at how fired up you get about it just talking on a blog. But you’re not alone. Everyone gets mad about anything with regard to worship. Everyone. Anything.

    So my plan is simply to take a call to a church whose worship practices I can live with in good conscience, whatever those practices may be. If a church is a great church, but does something I have a really big problem with, well, it would be really hard to be the pastor of that church. It’s hard to tolerate something you think is sin on the one hand, and it’s even worse to try to change it. Somebody’s guaranteed to be unhappy that way. You start out with one strike against you. Thanks but no thanks.

    So I’ll be taking a call, someday, hopefully, in a reformed church, whose worship practices I can live with. So whoever I’m preaching to, they already worship the way that I think the Bible says worship should be done, more or less. So you don’t have to worry about me stifling anyone’s creativity, or quenching the Spirit. No one will cry themselves to sleep at night because they couldn’t do something in worship because of mean ol’ pastor Echo.

    My job will not be to oppress people, but to preach the gospel to them. Presbyterian ministers, properly, are not kings. The governing of the church is done by the elders, which we call a session, and though he is also an elder, the pastor is the moderator of the session, so he usually doesn’t even vote on the matters that come before the elders, because he’s busy moderating.

    So I’m sorry you can’t agree with your family on worship, but I have no interest in debating it with you at this time. I can see that you really wanted me to debate it with you, because you keep baiting me, but I’m trying to tell you that I’m not biting. Let a thread somewhere be started on how worship should be done and I’ll comment on it, but that’s not what this thread is or was, and that wasn’t my point from the very beginning.

    What I’ve been trying to say from the beginning is this: this thread makes fun of Christians for worshiping God. It doesn’t make fun of SOME Christians for HOW they worship God, it makes fun of ALL Christians for HOW they worship God, thus the “how” is taken out of the equation, and it becomes making fun of Christians FOR worshiping God. Does anyone yet understand what I’m trying to say?

    E

  23. Ok, I’ll take one more bite at this apple try to help Echo out here. This joke is making fun of our PERCEPTIONS of different cultural worship styles. The humor here is in how the city Christian and the country Christian each perceived the other. This leads to humor.

    I had a similar laugh some years ago when listening to a Texas rancher describe his trip to Israel, using words like “gulches” and “skinny cattle”.

    What makes this funny is how we view other cultural expressions of worship.

    Have I helped you at all here?

  24. Matt S says:

    Echo, here is my last bite of said apple.

    You are the only one who is offended by this joke. Everyone else on this blog finds it funny. This leads me to believe that you are misintepreting the joke, not the 10-20 other people that have read it and have no problem with it.

    Stop insisting that you are the only one with a correct interpretation and everyone else “just does not get it”. The numbers say the opposite is true.

  25. Gregg says:

    Echo,
    I do understand what you are trying to say and had the joke been that Christians are silly for worshiping I would be your biggest supporter. But is it not. The joke makes fun of the structures we value, not the God to whom we worship; not to our command to worship.
    I pointed out earlier that the prophets speak of God hating our religous falsehood. Let me give an example of what Jesus calls falsehood in worship. it is no doubt very familiar to all of us. Jesus said, when you go before God and you have unresolved issues with your brother you are to leave your offering at the alter and make peace. Moral: Do not do the actions of worship without the heart of worship in place first. Religious falsehood is internal, it is covert, it too often looks like real worship. If anything this joke should be a call for us to evaluate the areas where we worship poorly, where we hold structures above God.
    Echo, I find it more problematic that you are more comfortable with a joke that divides the body (if Albino had only “mocked” choruses) more then one that pokes fun of all structures. I would still like to hear your thoughts on the specifics of worship and if there is any room for jovialism in worship. Psalms commands us to worship YHWH with harps. Are you only going to take a call from a church that plays harps? And on that topic. I appreciate the way you answered the “my church” comment. I hope Alex wasn’t trying to say it is your church. On a side bar, there is a growing movement within Christian circles (at least where I run) who see the negative impact of consumerism within the Church, where ones preferences are more important then the body of Christ. Where the individual is elevated above the community. That is the world of the “my church” Ephesians makes it clear it is Christs church
    However I digress and to get back on target, worship is obviously a foundational thing for you. That is good, for it is. But I cannot help wondering if you are seeing much ado about nothing in this joke. Lets assume tha Albinos intentions with this joke were pure (if that is possible) and that he meant no dishonor to God. Why can you not concede that it is the heart of worship that is critical, not the command to sing. Throughout the Bible God makes it emphatically clear that he wants our hearts as well as our obedience. (see Matt 22:38-40) The way, I think, many are hearing you is that you hold to a blind allegence to the acts of worship- because we are commanded to. The only thing you doing is making an argument for anything including Islamic. If ones holy text says God is revealing something they must act on it.
    Gregg

  26. Alex says:

    Echo, I was implying the actual church that you will be pastoring not “your” church. Am I really having to explain this? The irony in this all is the joke is on us as Christians. We are the one’s that screw things up. Like you said yourself we are commanded to worship. End of story. However we (christians) tend to put more emphasis on HOW we worship when God just says to Worship. Where is the disconnect here?
    BTW, I find no pleasure in trying to bait you as you say, I genuinely wanted to know how you envisioned corporate worship in God’s church that you will be pastoring.

  27. Echo_ohcE says:

    Albino,

    You said:
    “This joke is making fun of our PERCEPTIONS of different cultural worship styles. The humor here is in how the city Christian and the country Christian each perceived the other.”

    – Echo:
    Now THAT is a helpful clarification. Thank you for saying that.

    E

  28. Echo_ohcE says:

    Gregg and Alex,

    At the risk of thread jacking, I’ll make one point about worship. I will of course have to explain it and defend it a little bit, but I am really only making one assertion. My one point about worship, and it is very basic, is summed up in one phrase: “God expression, not self expression.”

    Now what do I mean by that? I mean in worship, we don’t seek to express ourselves. We ourselves are not acceptable and pleasing to God. What IS acceptable to God? Jesus Christ: his perfect obedience and love for his brothers. We worship God through Christ. It is only because we are united to Christ by faith that we can stand before God at all, much less worship him. Consider Psalm 24 that says only he who has clean hands and a pure heart is worthy to ascend the hill of the Lord, referring to Zion, where God is worshiped in the Temple. Only the holy can commune with God, only the holy can worship him. That’s why Adam was kicked out of the Garden. The Garden was like the Temple. It was an enclosure where God’s presence was manifested, where man communed with God. Only the holy are worthy to worship God, because worship is communion with God, fellowship with God, communication with God. God speaks to his people lovingly and his people respond lovingly. Thus the communion and the communication. Our relationship to God consists in communication, just like the relationship between man and wife consists in communication, both verbal and physical. Our relationship with God consists in worship in verbal communication. God speaks in his Word, through the sermon, and the people respond with praise and adoration. But the only thing that makes us worthy to partake in this fellowship with God is being united to Christ by faith alone. So were we to express OURSELVES before God, our worship would not be acceptable or pleasing to God. That’s why I believe that the people who say that what matters most in worship is our sincerity – I believe these people are mistaken at the most fundamental level. For if we are sincere, then we are honestly expressing our own hearts. But the problem with that is that our hearts are wicked. Our hearts are always condemning us (1 John 3:20). If we express what is on our heart, we will be expressing wickedness, not the righteousness required to have fellowship with God. But if we seek and strive to express GOD’S righteousness in worship, if we seek to IMITATE God in worship, THEN our worship will be acceptable before God, because then we are expressing CHRIST IN US, not our sinful wicked hearts. Paul says to be imitators of God (Eph 5:1). But how can we be imitators of God? The answer to this is very simple. God has given us commands. Those commands reflect his righteous character. Following his commands IS imitating God, which is why he gave us these commands in the first place. He made us in his image. That means our created purpose is to reflect him. In other words, our created purpose is to imitate him. So he has given us the law, which reflects his character, to guide us as to how we should go about imitating him. But more than this, God became a man and dwelt among us, perfectly obeying the law. Jesus obeyed the law perfectly, serving as an excellent moral example for us. And we should strive to follow his example. But meanwhile, we need to remember two things. First, we only can begin to follow his example. We will never perfectly follow his example, which is why we are dependent on him as our Mediator, to act on our behalf before God. Second, the only reason why we can even begin to follow his example is because we are united to him, and declared to be holy based on his perfect obedience. So, because Christ was worthy to worship, therefore, we who are united to him by faith become worthy to worship. That’s the only thing that makes our worship acceptable, our union with Christ by faith. However, as we all know, that faith produces a desire to follow the law of God, but not just in life, but in worship, because we want to try to do what pleases him, and what pleases him is obedience, both in worship and in our day to day living. So our worship is only acceptable through Christ, but since this is the case, we want to try to imitate God as much as possible, because being saved leads to repentance and good works. It leads to a desire to do good. But doing good does not mean expressing our wicked hearts, but imitating God. Therefore I said, “God expression, not self expression.” Don’t say, here, God, here is my heart, I give it to you by expressing it to you. Your heart is sinful. Holding up our sin to God as a present is kind of like when someone’s cat gives them a dead mouse as a present. It’s disgusting. God doesn’t want your sin. He wants to see himself reflected in you like a mirror. He wants you to be like him, and he has taken great pains and paid a terrific cost to bring that about. “God expression, not self expression.” It’s a good rule for worship and a good rule for living. Just remember that you can never perfectly imitate God: but that’s what we strive for.

    E

  29. ericajordan says:

    Albino, I see you can not bear the thought of individual thought and had to remove my comment from your blog.

    I’m sure others might be under the impression that no one else agrees with Echo.

    And they will remain that way as long as you censure opposing comments to your views.

    You must be a Bushie or Rush Limbaugh supporter! Your little blog could not stand that someone else might agree with Echo that you have to remove my comments.

  30. Your comment crossed the line, so I had to remove it. Blogging here is a privelege and not a right. Keep everything civil.

  31. Echo_ohcE says:

    That exchange dumbfounds me.

  32. Alex says:

    Echo,

    1I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
    [Romans 12:1]
    Our worship seems to be acceptable. It’s acceptable because Christ is in us. If we worship with a harp, our voice, clapping our hands, dancing, reading His Word,or praying. It is acceptable. I understand it’s only “in light of God’s mercy” that we can worship. We definitely agree on the fact that we must understand it’s only because of God’s mercy that we can even worship, but we must also agree that it is acceptable. When the veil was torn we now can come into God’s prescence with confidence because of Christ. Look here in Ephesians 3:11-12

    11according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. 12In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.
    Amen. We don’t need to come to him in shame because as a Christian we now identify with Christ. I’m sure you love worshipping God as much as I do and for that I would not even dare make fun of your “style” of worshipping. As I said in an earlier post I’m thankful that God enjoys our diverse styles of worship. Praise be to God!!

  33. Gregg says:

    Alex,
    I think one of Echos points is that we are making fun of his “style” of worship. By making a joke about such a holy topic as worship we are making fun of all of worhsip, including his.
    Your points are accurate, it is in Christ alone that our worship is acceptable and it is through Him that we can approach the throne at all, but they do not address the underlying question of Echos axiom.
    For the most part he presented a wonderful defense for worship, yet did not give the specifics of it. He asserts that worship is a command and we must be obedient to it. fantastic, Scriptures also outlines several other worhsip orientated commands. He seems to disassociate himself from the other commands for example, sing to the YHWH a new song (are we to update our music set every quarter?) Worship YHWH with harps (should we not use any other instrument?) In several Psalms David says to worship towards Gods holy temple.
    The sine que non of Echos position is Worship is a command from God. It is offensive to mock a command from God. These are true and valid points, yet he has not taken the arguement to its logical conclusion, for he has not taken the following Gods commands in worhsip all the way. he punts with his “in Christ,” defense to the omission of the rest of the Scriptural evidence. To be consistent he would have to only worship in a Church that follows Biblically structured worship, i.e. harps & trumpets would be the primary instruments, it would be at the temple, the essential elements would be communion and the love feasts, for all of these are clearly outline Biblical worship.
    Again, I appreciate your point we are acceptable to God, we are, in Christ, a royal priesthood, a holy people, Gods beloved- I am with you that we will spend eternity rejoicing in this truth! Thanks for sharing them.
    Gregg

  34. ericajordan says:

    Albino Hayford says I crossed the line? And removed my comment?

    Crossing the line is what this thread is all about.

    It is your little blog so you get to set the rules, despite your lack of courtesy in doing so.

    A substantial number of comments believe your ridicule of the worship of every Christian is across the line.

    The humor, gallows humor I suppose, is that you, Albino, sit back and derides the true worship of the King of the Universe but declare others not “civil”.

    Ummm, the Pharisees seem to still have a good following, mostly genius I’m sure.

  35. Good, Erica. I can leave that comment.

    A substantial number oc comments believe your riducule of the worship of every Christian is across the line

    Um, not so much. As I explained to Echo, the joke was on our PERCEPTIONS of others. If you don’t see the humor in it, so be it. And I believe one guy (Echo) here has a problem. If you don’t see the humor in it, I guess that makes two, but I can tell you that this post has been viewed by over 100 people, so apparently you are in the minority.

  36. Echo_ohcE says:

    Alex/Gregg,

    Just wanted you to know I read your posts. As I said, I’m not debating worship here. I did not give my entire understanding of worship. That would have been much longer. I’m glad you guys got that off your chests though.

    E

  37. Echo_ohcE says:

    Albino,

    I just wanted to reiterate that your distinction about perceptions is extremely helpful.

    E

  38. Echo_ohcE says:

    Alex,

    You said:
    “I think one of Echos points is that we are making fun of his “style” of worship. By making a joke about such a holy topic as worship we are making fun of all of worhsip, including his.”

    – Echo:
    No, I’m sorry, that’s not it. I’ve taken great pains to explain that that very thing in particular was not my point and never has been my point.

    E

  39. Alex says:

    Echo, the last quote you referred to was actually Greg’s. He was however speaking to me.

  40. Echo_ohcE says:

    Oops! Sorry about that. I knew that – I don’t know why I wrote Alex rather than Gregg. Sorry.

  41. Gregg says:

    Echo,
    How did I miss you point? On the 4th you said, “you had better come to terms with this you do not get to worship God however you like…it’s a matter of obedience….it is not our structures that we are laughing at its Gods.”

    Tell me where I do not understand your argument. The suppositions as I see them are:
    1) God established worship.
    2) We are commanded you worship.
    3) God decrees how we are to worship.
    4) We worship Him by being obedience to His commands.

    No doubt you will nuance each point differently, but am I missing the foundational essence of it?

    I as I pointed out several times you have made a valid defense of Biblical worship, however like I said to Alex, you have not taken the argument far enough. I have asked several times, in different ways, why you do not take all worship commands with the same veracity. Echo, your argument is sound; its problem is it is not fully consistent. At the dangerous risk of sounding judgmental, I am not trying to attack you; I am only trying to show an apparent blind spot. I suppose that is why we need the body to encourage our faith.
    Treading Humbly,
    Gregg

  42. Echo_ohcE says:

    Alex (and I do mean Alex),

    In response to your frustration about dealing with your family with regard to debating worship, I have an idea for you.

    Dr. Godfrey, president of Westminster Seminary California, has recently written an article expounding Calvin’s views on worship. It can be found here:

    http://www.wscal.edu/faculty/wscwritings/07.04.php

    Here’s my idea. This article does a very good job of expounding the Reformed view of worship. Of course, it advocates Psalms only and no instrumentation, something that is debated even among the Reformed. But the basic point of the article is one that all the Reformed do agree on, in principle if not in practice.

    I think that if you would print out this article and read through it slowly, taking notes in the margin about your specific objections to specific points, being sure that you understand the point being made and why it is being made – I think you will then have the ability to give good answers to your family, perhaps making the process less frustrating.

    The reason why I say this is that you probably feel like your family doesn’t understand your views of worship, and they probably treat you like you don’t understand theirs, whether you do or not. So I say, be the bigger man, prove to them that you do in fact understand their view of worship as articulated here in this article, and that you can object to it intelligently from the Scriptures.

    Few things are quite as satisfying as articulating a solid defense of your own view, such that someone who disagrees with you can understand your view and respect your right to hold it on the grounds that you do. Often times, when people disagree, it becomes frustrating because it feels like the other person or people who disagree with you don’t seem to think that you have the right to hold the view that you hold. Nothing is more frustrating.

    Let’s take an extreme example, just to make the point obvious. Say that I, a Christian, encounter a gay Unitarian minister. Let’s say that he and I get into a discussion about what the Bible says about homosexuality. I will of course be on the side that says that the Bible clearly and in no uncertain terms condemns homosexuality as being perhaps one of the greatest heights of depravity. Obviously, this homosexual Unitarian minister would disagree. But he would do more than disagree, he would accuse me personally of judging him, and declare that I have no right to do so. Furthermore, he would argue that God doesn’t judge us, perhaps, because he says that there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus. (Maybe he’d say that, I don’t know.) And he would argue further, perhaps, that the Bible declares that we are to judge no one, lest we ourselves are judged. To which I would reply that I am not judging him, but merely recognizing that the Bible judges his behavior as profanely wicked. In other words, I would be forced to defend not what the Bible says, by my right to parrot what the Bible says, and to hold the truths of the Bible as my own opinion, and to state those opinions unashamedly as being what the Bible says.

    Well, much the same thing can be said about almost any debate over what the Bible says. Somebody says that this or that is what the Bible says, as a means of opposing someone’s view. Often, the other person feels condemned by what this person is saying, because, if what this person is saying were true, then the other person would be guilty of sin. So they respond by defending themselves to this person, rather than defending their view with Scripture.

    It happens ALL THE TIME. People are constantly debating matters of doctrine or whatever, and rather than discussing what the Bible says, it becomes me vs. you, and degrades into a debate about what someone has the right to say. Don’t let a debate with your family turn out this way. It doesn’t have to. Keep it from being personal by studying this article thoroughly, and take notes on your objections. Then, when you have compiled your objections to specific things, and found Scriptural support for your objections, then you can come to your family and say, “This is what I see the Bible saying, as opposed to what you are saying about worship.”

    No Christian should ever be disrespectful to someone who approaches them in this way, because you are claiming the Bible’s authority, not your own, and you are doing so in faith, submitting to the Scriptures as you read them. Even if they vigorously oppose you, I would think that they would still HAVE to respect you for it, and that will make the whole thing less frustrating. Nothing is more frustrating that having someone treat you like you have no right to hold the view you are holding. Especially for Christians, we hate it when someone tells us that our view is simply rebellion against the Scriptures, and as such we simply need to repent, because we are clearly in sin. This makes us feel like what we think is completely illegitimate. We HATE that. It gets right to the very heart of our fundamental rights as human beings to think through an issue and make a judgment call. God made us so that we would be able to make these rational judgments, and we can’t stand it when someone tries to take that right away from us.

    I hope you are not offended at my advice, and that it helps you win the respect of your family, and that it leads to a more peaceful interaction with them as a result. That is what I hope for you, and I hope that my suggestion will help further that end.

    In Christ,

    Echo

  43. Echo_ohcE says:

    Gregg,

    I was trying to say throughout that it is not my particular view of worship that I saw as being exclusively violated. My beef about this thread was that ALL views of worship were being “mocked”. That is why I was offended.

    Had it been ONLY my view of worship that I saw as being mocked, I would of course still have been offended, but far, far less so. It is totally understandable to make fun of someone else’s view. I don’t think it’s very nice, nor does it exhibit Christian love, nor is it wise – but that doesn’t mean it isn’t understandable. It’s quite natural for human beings to make fun of others who hold different opinions, tastes, values, etc. We do it all the time. City people make fun of rural people, and vice versa, for example.

    Now, Albino made a very eloquent and precise distinction. He said that this post was not making fun of hymn singers and chorus singers as I supposed. Rather, he said, it was making fun of how hymn singers PERCEIVE chorus singers, and how chorus singers PERCEIVE hymn singers. No one is being made fun of for what they do in worship, but for how they perceive what others do in worship.

    On that grounds, my offense is removed, because it clearly vindicates Albino’s intent with the post.

    Originally, I viewed the post as making fun of hymn singers for their hymns, and making fun of chorus singers for their choruses. So both hymns were mocked and choruses were mocked. My conclusion then was that all Christians were being made fun of for how they worship God. Since it was all Christians, all methods, therefore I concluded that Christians were being made fun of FOR WORSHIPING GOD.

    But again, Albino helped me see that that was not at all his intent, and that I merely took the post the wrong way. He PROVED it to me.

    Now, you have understood my basic point about worship, namely that it is commanded. But you don’t understand why I don’t regard all the commands of Scripture in the exact same way.

    The commands to the Israelites, plainly enough, don’t all apply to us. Christ fulfilled many things about the OT. For example, we are free today to eat hot dogs, even though the OT forbids it. Why? Because of the advent of Christ. We are also free from making sacrifices. Why? Because of the advent of Christ. Many of the commands, such as the command to sacrifice in the temple, are fulfilled in Christ, and thus we don’t need to take them as commands FOR US anymore. That doesn’t mean that the fact that God commanded the Israelites those things has nothing to teach us anymore; far from it. The OT remains the Word of God. But we interpret it differently on this side of the cross than the original audience did.

    Read the article above that I suggested to Alex. But I would add that I don’t subscribe to only acapella Psalm singing. It’s ok to do it that way, but I don’t think that specifically is a law of God or a command for worship. But other than that, it’s a good article, and explains a number of things fairly well.

    E

  44. Gregg says:

    Echo,
    Thanks for the article. It is very interesting and it answered many of the questions I presented to you. From what you said I understand you disagree with some parts of it, however, from your tradition could you help me understand why Calvin “put worship ahead of salvation in his list of the two most important elements of biblical Christianity.”
    Thanks,
    Gregg

  45. Echo_ohcE says:

    Sure. God saves us right? God has a reason for doing that right? What’s the reason? The reformed answer: to restore us to fellowship with God. Worship is fellowship with God. We are saved so that we can be in fellowship with God, namely to give him worship. So salvation then becomes a means to an end. What end? Worship.

    As question 1 of the Westminster Shorter Catechism says:

    What is the chief end of man?
    The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.

    So yeah, God saves us so that we might not perish, but why does God not want us to perish? So that we can do what we were originally created to do: commune with him through worship. If our worship is a little taste of heaven, then we can also say that heaven will be one great big worship service. We will truly live lives of worship. We will be in perfect communion with God, perfectly united to him through Christ. Intimate fellowship with him, way beyond the intimacy of man and wife, and it will never end. That’s why seeing worship as fellowship with God is so important.

    Just to throw an additional idea out there: you might notice the form of Calvin’s worship service. It doesn’t really make much sense the way Godfrey just kind of threw it out there like that. He didn’t really explain the parts of it. However, one thing to help us understand what Calvin is doing is the dialogical principle. Dialogical comes from the word dialog. Worship is seen by the reformed as a dialog, a conversation with God. God speaks and his people respond. The pastor speaks for God. So there is a reading of the law (God speaking), followed by a confession of sin (the people’s response to the law), followed by a declaration of pardon (God responding to our confession of sin). This is just the part where it can be most clearly seen. Also, the Call to Worship is God calling his people to worship him. Then they respond by doing so. It all ends up with the benediction, because God responds to our worship by pronouncing a blessing upon us, calling us by his name, declaring us blessed because we are his people. Now he blesses us for worshiping him because he accepts our worship – but remember that our worship is accepted because we worship through Christ. So by blessing our worship, he is blessing Christ, which blessing is conferred to us.

    If you look at about the first half of Isaiah 6, you can see these exact elements present when Isaiah is taken into the presence of God. The angels cry holy, holy, holy (reading of law), to which Isaiah responds, woe is me, for my lips are unclean and I live among a people of unclean lips, to which the angel replies by cleansing his lips and declaring him clean, then this is followed by God speaking his Word to Isaiah. Pretty cool, if I do say so myself.

    E

  46. Cam says:

    If you think Albino is irreverant here you ought to see him play golf!

  47. Gregg says:

    OK Echo i’ll bite,
    How is the declaration of the Angels equated to reading the law? God is holy that is clear in the Torah, but the rest- at best, is connected to the psalms. Isaiah 6 is a very cool text, but are you reading something into it that is not there?
    Gregg

  48. Alex says:

    Echo, I appreciate the link. Here are a few of my thoughts on the subject.

    1) God commands us to worship Him and Him only.
    This I would say is the most important point of all that I will say. If you find yourself worshipping the singers, your pastor, the musicians, your ego, you need to repent and ask for forgiveness. This should go without saying but as a former worship leader I had found myself guilty of putting my desire to “get it right” (music, song choice, keys) above just simply worshipping God in church.

    2) Rules of God or rules of man.
    I believe there are many lessons we can learn from the Pharisees and one of them is recorded here in Mark 7.

    6He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written:
    ” ‘These people honor me with their lips,
    but their hearts are far from me.
    7They worship me in vain;
    their teachings are but rules taught by men.'[b] 8You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men.”

    Worship is a way of living your life and here the most “righteous” people of their day had been worshipping God in vain. They knew the right things to say because they knew the Law but they did not apply the Law to their own lives. How can this be? To the world these men were seperated from the world they made sure that people knew they were set apart. Then Jesus comes on the scene to reveal that worship is a “heart issue.” Wow! Only God knows our heart. I will even veture out to say that we don’t really know our own heart like God does. If this is true, how can I judge the way someone else is Worshipping God? The only thing we have to gauge by is God’s Word. If it’s forbidden in the Bible I would have to agree it’s wrong. Aside from that I don’t have the “guts” to say that this is the worship model I see in the Bible and if you don’t follow this model you are not truly worshipping. I won’t do it. I commend Calvin for his ability to “defend” his style of worship I just don’t see a need to “defend” my style, unless of course I was directly forbidden to in the Bible. We need to let go of the traditions of man and hold on to the commands from God.

    3) Charismatic or Reformed the struggles are equally there.
    We all struggle to make sure that God is the center of our worship. Charismatics may struggle with emptiness in that they may display outwordly a passion for worship for their King when “in their hearts they are far from Him” as much as a reformed christian may struggle with lack of passion or dryness. Both are struggles. I agree with you Echo that we need to pay attention to where our heart is when we corporately worship just as much as we need to pay attention to why we may be giving, is it too be seen by man or because we are commanded to give?

    I would like to know since you feel this is the Biblical way(westminster writings) to worship God corporately what would you say to any church that may not follow this specific model?

    I close with this verse: John 4: 23-24

    “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

  49. Echo_ohcE says:

    Alex,

    Good thoughts. I myself don’t agree with Calvin on every point. But I also don’t find that this is a matter of opinion. He seems to think psalms only are appropriate to sing, because they are in the Bible, and for this reason we should sing them. Not so, says Paul, I think, when he talks about psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. I think Calvin is just plain wrong on that point. But there are a lot of people who agree. I don’t think it’s bad to sing only psalms, except that the name “Jesus Christ” isn’t actually anywhere in them, and that makes me uncomfortable. But these psalms are, of course, the Word of God, and so of great benefit to us. I just think we should ALSO sing songs that contain a clearer revelation as well.

    And as for instruments, I think they should be used, IF they are used, as an aide to worship. For example, a piano helps us keep the tune without drowning out the sound of our voices. It is of great encouragement to us to hear our neighbor singing to the Lord along with us. I love that. Even a loud organ can ruin it for me. But something nice and quiet, so I can still hear others sing, can be of great help to keep us on track, and to keep us together, and I see nothing wrong with that. But since worship is not for our entertainment but for the worship of God, therefore I don’t want worship to be viewed as a performance, whether before God or before men. Because no matter how well we hold a tune, it doesn’t make our worship anymore acceptable to God. Only Christ makes us worthy to worship him, and makes our worship acceptable.

    For this reason, I don’t want to judge anyone else for their worship. I think the Bible makes some very clear points about worship, and once they have all been considered, there isn’t a whole lot of room for variation. While I may think some things are wrong, I wouldn’t properly judge anyone for it.

    You know, you should have this conversation with your family, not me. Bring up these points to them, or maybe point them here. I don’t know.

    For my part, if some Christian or other disagrees with me on worship, I don’t want to make a big deal out of it. Sure, we can talk about it, but I don’t want to be hostile about it, because I’m much more concerned THAT you worship than with HOW you worship. I am concerned about how we worship. I think it’s tremendously important. But I think that someone understands the gospel is FAR more important.

    Worship may be the goal of our salvation, but I would rather that someone understands their salvation than that they understand worship if given the choice. For if we understand our salvation, then righteousness and the desire for righteousness follows that. No, I would be very hesitant to argue with family about hymns versus choruses, for example. But you better believe I wouldn’t back down from an argument about whether we are justified by faith or by faith and works. I’ll NEVER let that go. Worship I can let go of though. But that’s only because I’ve had to so many times. I’ve learned the hard way.

    But of course, on blogs like these, I keep showing that I haven’t learned it. I keep getting drawn into arguments that I shouldn’t be having, because I won’t get anywhere. Oh well.

    E

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