Tim Challies explains.
If our musical understanding is built out of only contemporary music, we are to a large degree foolish people for three main reasons:
- We have such a rich history to tap into. The history of hymnody is dominated by some of the greatest composers in history. It is dominated by some of the greatest poets in history. It is dominated by some of the most brilliant theologians crafting liturgy over hundreds of years. It is dominated by some of the most dramatic conversions and historical moments that shaped countries and nations and cultures. For us to turn out backs to that and say that we here in Illinois today in our room know better and don’t need to learn from them is silly. So there is a richness for us to learn from.
- (Tim Keller mentions it in his article on worship in Worship by the Book .) I think there is a sense in which we should have something in our worship services which reminds us that we are part of something that has gone on for centuries. I think it is important for the outsider to see that we’re not a cult. I think it’s important for others to see that we learn from the past.
- I think it’s just good to do some of it sometimes. It’s just good stuff. It’s good to use. . . . There is no way to satisfy everybody’s musical tastes. But we do have a job to feed our congregations. So we start from there and not from musical tastes and know that we’re part of a rich history.
Related: Don Carson’s introductory essay in the above book is available for free as a PDF:
D. A. Carson, “Worship under the Word.” Page 11–63 in Worship by the Book. Edited by D. A. Carson. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002.
“I don’t do well with praise.” —Chloe O’Brian in Season 8 of 24
awk-ward (ôk-wərd), adjective. How you feel when someone compliments you.
Why are compliments so difficult to receive?
Most of us, unless we’re blatantly arrogant, feel embarrassed when someone encourages us. . . .
Usually we’re battling the fact that we love being encouraged but don’t want to be proud. We wish people wouldn’t say anything, but another part of us is crying out, “More! More!” It’s the dilemma of Romans 7:21: “when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand.”
Here are some practices I’ve learned to help me receive encouragement (at least better than I used to):
- Thank the person for taking the time to encourage you. I don’t have to evaluate the accuracy of their encouragement. All I know is that they made a point to express gratefulness when they didn’t have to say anything.
- If the compliment is vague, ask for clarification. We’re not fishing for more praise; it’s just that it helps to know how God specifically worked in a person’s heart. You might respond, “Thanks so much! So what is it about the meeting that encouraged you?” If someone isn’t really sure what they liked, or if their second answer is just as vague (“It was just cool”), I usually say, “Great!” Not every interaction needs to be profound.
- Express gratefulness for the opportunity to serve. My most common response to encouragement is, “It’s a privilege and a joy.” Because it is. God is giving me grace to follow the example of Paul who said, “For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake” (2 Corinthians 4:5). More importantly, we’re declaring our allegiance to the Savior who came not to be served but to serve (Mark 10:45).
- Draw attention to the contributions of others. Most of the time when people encourage me, they’re unaware of the parts others played. I can increase their awareness. “I’m just grateful to be on this team; these guys practice so hard.” One of the best ways to turn awkwardness into gratefulness is to remember how God has used others in my life. And when I’m actively looking for evidences of grace in other people, I have less time to think about myself.
- Internally and intentionally “transfer the glory to God.” That’s a phrase I first learned from C. J. Mahaney, who was quoting the Puritan pastor Thomas Watson. It means acknowledging that any benefit or fruit is because of his grace, and therefore all the glory is completely and rightfully his. It’s not mine. So at some point after the meeting, possibly when you’re driving home, it’s wise to specifically give thanks to God and give him glory for all that you’ve received encouragement for.
None of this means we won’t struggle later with pride. I may put someone’s encouragement on constant replay in my mind, try to make others aware of how well I did, or exaggerate someone’s comments in a later conversation. The best thing to do then is confess my pride to God and again transfer all the glory to him.
Judgmentalism is a sinfully “critical spirit, a condemning attitude” (D. A. Carson, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount and His Confrontation with the World , p. 105). We can be judgmental about nearly anything.
The point of this post is not to debate disputed positions; it’s about our disposition. It’s not about who’s right and who’s wrong; it’s about applying the gospel to our sinfully critical spirits and condemning attitudes. We might think of judgmental people as those with “stricter” standards, but people with “looser” standards can be judgmental, too. Whatever our views may be on disputed issues like the ones below, we can be guilty of judgmentalism. Jesus died for that sin.
When my mind is fixed on the gospel, I have ample stimulation to show God’s love to other people. For I am always willing to show love to others when I am freshly mindful of the love that God has shown me. (Milton Vincent, A Gospel Primer , p. 24)
Jerry Bridges (b. 1929) turned 82 last month. He’s a prolific author and a humble, gospel-centered man. You can get to know him a little better via C. J. Mahaney’s brief text and audio interviews. (See also his books and audio.)
Below I quote portions of his chapter on judgmentalism (pp. 141–48, headings added). This will likely whet your appetite to read the whole chapter, especially in light of chapters 1–6.
The sin of judgmentalism is one of the most subtle of our “respectable” sins because it is often practiced under the guise of being zealous for what is right. It’s obvious that within our conservative evangelical circles there are myriads of opinions on everything from theology to conduct to lifestyle and politics. Not only are there multiple opinions but we usually assume our opinion is correct. That’s where our trouble with judgmentalism begins. We equate our opinions with truth. (p. 141)
I grew up in the mid-twentieth century, when people dressed up to go to church. Men wore jackets and ties (usually suits and ties) and women wore dresses. Sometime in the 1970s, men began to show up at church wearing casual pants and open-collar shirts. Many women began to wear pants. For several years, I was judgmental toward them. Didn’t they have any reverence for God? Would they dress so casually if they were going to an audience with the president? That sounded pretty convincing to me. [Read more…] about Judgmentalism
[The Protestant Reformers] used a very broad brush to eliminate from their theology and worship anything they considered contrary to Scripture or supplementary to Scripture. So the doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture has served as a weapon against the imposition of extrabiblical notions on the conscience of the believer.
Nevertheless, nearly five hundred years have passed since the beginning of the Protestant Reformation, and during that time Protestantism itself has accumulated a large amount of tradition. Some of this is good, some bad. My present point is that it is just as important as ever to distinguish human tradition from the norms of Scripture and to fight any attempt to put the two on the same level of authority. Some cases in point:
. . . . Many traditions have also developed concerning worship and other aspects of church life. These concern the style and instrumentation of worship songs, the order of events in worship, degree of formality or informality, and so on. Many of these are not commanded by Scripture, but many are in accord with broad biblical principles. The problem is that church people will sometimes defend their particular practice as mandatory on all Christians, and they will criticize as spiritually inferior churches that use different styles and patterns. Often the criteria used are not scriptural, but aesthetic. People argue that this style of music is more dignified, that that liturgy is more ancient, and so forth. These aesthetic and historical criteria are often used in place of Scripture, leading to the condemnations of practices that Scripture permits and commanding of practices that Scripture does not command. That, too, in my judgment, violates the principle of sola Scriptura, the sufficiency of Scripture.
Click the book covers for more information, including sample pages and endorsements from Tim Keller, D. A. Carson, Phil Ryken, Jerry Bridges, Al Mohler, and Tullian Tchividjian (click the “Endorsements” tab).
Bryan Chapell, who has served as president of Covenant Seminary since 1994, is best known to some as the author of Christ-Centered Preaching: Redeeming the Expository Sermon.