What I Read Online – 03/04/2012 (a.m.)

    • I want to be respectful and thoughtful in these next words, and I realize that I might be wandering into the territories and preferences of other contributors to this book. But as valuable as the instruments and sounds of the typical praise band might be, they often do little to bolster and enhance congregational song in the pure sense of physics and acoustics. They can easily overwhelm to the point where congregations no longer hear themselves sing and end up accompanying the worship band, when the reverse should be true. This does not mean praying for good riddance. That would be evil. Rather, it means that musicians who truly understand the laws of sound, the acoustical congregational voice, and the rigors of instrumental collaboration must make use of their instruments in radically different ways. I attend a church in which the worship band—especially the drummer—understands how delicate and understated their work can be. As a result, there is better singing and less watching than I have observed in so many other churches and colleges around the country. By the same token, organists must be more insightfully trained as to how the instrument is to be played beyond the often boringly slow and tedious sound masses that are enough to put a thunderstorm to sleep.

       

      I long for the time when all instruments together comprise a worship band, where insightful musicians will come to understand the orchestrational aspect of instrumental music. I mean this: A skillful orchestrater understands that all the instruments at his or her disposal do not play all the time—no, not even the drum set. Rather, through sensitivity to the rich variety of musical contexts and, in our case, to the wide-ranging contexts of congregational song, instruments and instrumental combinations are chosen that remain in perpetual ebb and flow, showing sensitive shifts of color and texture based both on the art of musical cation and the nuances of text and context. This is not impossible; it is simply difficult. But what isn’t when it comes to doing things well? (Exploring the Worship Spectrum: 6 Views, 74)

    • Classic Articles on Reformed Theology

       

       

       

    • The Puritan Library

       

       

       

    • Do we in fact worship the same God? It is true that there is widespread misunderstanding among Muslims concerning the Christian view of God—that the Trinity implies three separate gods and that the incarnation was the result of God the Father’s sexual relations with Mary, for example. Nevertheless, even when these misconceptions are resolved, the fact remains that Christians worship the Triune God revealed in Scripture and Muslims believe that this is blasphemy. We are not simple monotheists, but Trinitarians: God’s identity as three persons is just as basic to our faith as the one essence that they share. With respect to the latter, we disagree sharply over who this God is: his attributes, character, purposes, and relation to the world
    • Is this not the way it should be with all of our neighbors? Surely not every social event has to be an evangelistic opportunity, but then it also should not be a religious one either—as if churches and mosques could find some common ground of faith for their charity towards each other. The bridge-building between neighbors should happen in neighborhoods, not in “interfaith” quasi-religious gatherings.
    • More importantly, there is no gospel in Islam. It is a religion of works-righteousness from start to finish, with no rescue operation of God incarnate for sinners. The God we worship is known in Jesus Christ and any god who could be known apart from this Savior, dying and rising for us, is an idol. To separate belief in God from the gospel is to vitiate biblical faith at its core. The Allah of the Qur’an and Hadith is the archetype of terror and I have witnessed the overwhelming relief of those who have been freed from the fearful resignation to Allah by embracing the God who is revealed in Jesus Christ.
    • I do not for that reason wish to deprive my Muslim neighbors of the free expression of their religion. In fact, I would defend their right to it with life and limb. Nevertheless, our faith is missionary not in the jihadist sense but as the inherent impulse of the gospel itself as good news that must be proclaimed to the ends of the earth
    • My second misgiving is subordinate to the first, but perhaps worth mentioning. I do not doubt that there are many Muslims who embrace democratic values, but it is naïve for Christians to assume that Islam is simply a religion, much less one that is freely embraced. Ask any devout Muslim
    • There are at least three easy ways of avoiding the command to love our Muslim neighbors. The first is to ignore them, to pretend that America is a “Christian nation” and that the “other” does not really exist. That’s a version of the group narcissism I referred to above. The second is to demonize them, as if they were not fellow image-bearers of God whom we are called to love and serve and to whom we are called to bring the gospel. The third way is to try to establish some religious common ground that can make them seem less “other” and more like us, so that we can love them. The hardest thing is to love them simply because they are our neighbors and, as such, make a claim on us in all of their difference from us, a claim that we cannot ignore precisely because God’s law and his gospel are true—and savingly true—for them as well as for us. May we all pray for more of this kind of love.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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About Joe Fleener

Lover of Christ & His Gospel, Husband to Mandy, Father to three wonderful children, Servant to the Local Church, Bible College Lecturer
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