"Wealth will increasingly be defined by our ability to go offline whenever we want." - Fernando Gros
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Blog // Thoughts
July 9, 2006

Worship: Responsibility Or Therapy?

A significant number of the worship songs written today have a therapeutic inclination. Notice the emphasis on healing, wholeness, restoration. Of course, this has a degree of theological justification, but it also reflects the way that therapy has shaped and influenced western societies in the last thirty years. It is starting to trouble me. Maybe, […]

A significant number of the worship songs written today have a therapeutic inclination. Notice the emphasis on healing, wholeness, restoration. Of course, this has a degree of theological justification, but it also reflects the way that therapy has shaped and influenced western societies in the last thirty years.

It is starting to trouble me. Maybe, it has troubled me for a long time.

Not that a therapeutic approach to the Christian faith is all wrong, but it is also not the whole story. It is a bit of a hammer and nail thing; if one’s outlook is constrained by therapeutic and pharmacological approaches (i.e., all life’s struggles require either counseling, or drugs, or both), then one can develop an outlook that runs counter to the New Testament understanding of Sin, and maybe more importantly, of personal responsibility.

Now, I don’t want to advocate some form of Christian Stoicism, or a graceless stodginess. However, one lesson from Paul is that we up to a point, take responsibility for our struggle with the lesser parts of our nature.

Of course, we fail and fall short; that is where Grace comes in. God fills the gap between what we could be and what we are, it is important never to forget that, either in ourselves or in what we see in others. This is an important area where our hermeneutics (theories of interpretation) and our theology of worship, intersect and reveal themselves.

Responsibility, to me at least should remain a priority and our worship, our Christian language ought to reflect that. It is all well and good to “cast our cares upon Jesus,” but sometimes we also have to “press onward, upward still, to win the way at last.”

Responses
Matt Stone 16 years ago

I find there’s a definite ‘me’ factor to much contemporary Christian music…’wrap your arms around me Lord’, ‘here I am waiting, abide in me I pray’, etc, etc. All focussed on how you make ME feel, how you relate to ME, how you supercharge MY religious experience, how you heal MY emotions and make ME feel secure. Where is the focus on justice for the poor, on the hoped for renewal of the earth, on the return of Christ, on our need for confession, on our need to forgive others, on a whole host of other things? There’s a place for theraputic songs, but there’s a place for balance too.

Fernando Gros 16 years ago

Matt, you are right and that connects with a conversation I was having last week about the experience of worship in a church we have been visiting; all too personal.

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