As Christians, all too often we sing in church, but rarely ask why we worship, or examine with any specificity the linguistic implications therein.
The first song mentioned in the Bible in found in Exodus 15:1-21. Here, Moses and the people Israel had been set free from their bondage in Egypt, their enemies drowned in the Red Sea. It is immediately following this redemption that Moses and his sister Miriam lead the sons of Israel in song. The purpose of this song? Glorification of God. An examination of the first song of Moses reveals that the word Yahweh (the Lord) is used eleven times during Moses' eighteen verses, and once more in Miriam's refrain. "God" is used twice, and pronouns referring to God ("he", "him", "his", "you", and "your") occur thirty five times. Moses, despite his courage, faith, and accomplishments, is not mentioned once. What are we to take from this example? All too often contemporary worship songs speak of our love to God, our worship of God, our experiences, and our spirituality. This style of worship stands in sharp contrast with recognition of His love for us, His grace, and Christ's atonement and Resurrection. Thus when we worship, we should do so as a people redeemed and made new in Christ Jesus, to which we exalt Him, not our experience of Him.
What songs do you sing to God?
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Douglas Wilson, classical Christian education proponent writes in his book Classical Education and the Homeschool:
"To be a Christian is to be in constant, total war. We have no say in the matter and no one is exempt from service. This war is not just some sideline feature of the Christian life. It is the Christian life. Every step toward seeing 'every knee bow' before the Lord of glory is an act of war, whether in faithfulness or hatred. Until that point, the war is ruthless and relentless. The horrific enemy onslaught never ceases. This war is not only constant but total, unconfined, and overwhelming. It is not limited to the daily fight against our own sin but encompasses everything within and without... And as this battle moves us all along, killing and maiming, crushing and roaring, much of contemporary Christianity fights with bumper stickers and self-esteem seminars. As the enemy smiles and schemes to ravage our children and decapitate our churches, we try to play down our differences with our attackers and use their institutions as models for our own. As they mock Christ to His face, we learn to relax, take a joke, and create a more entertaining worship atmosphere. The only thing worse than being cut to death in the middle of a war is having it happen without realizing it."
This quote was shared to me this evening by a friend. Our topic of conversation was classical Christian education. I had voiced frustration in my school's current curriculum. As Wilson alludes to in the above text, it is foolish for Christians to model our institutions after humanist institutions. Working in a Christian school that has adopted a humanist model, I find this quote particularly poignant. I am in the early stages of expressing my concern over our current curriculum to administration. My first email was met with the following reply:
"While I personally see the value of a classical education, I do not believe [our school's] 'charter' was to be a classical school. [Our school] was initially begun to provide a Christian education to the widest possible population, 'Preparing them for tomorrow - with a Christ-centered education today.' I have personal doubts that there is a wide and broad interest in classical education so there are no plans to move in that direction."
As one who is teaching the current adopted curriculum at this school (the name of which has been intentionally omitted to preserve my current employment status), I have doubts that we are offering a "Christ-centered" education. Our curriculum is the same curriculum offered at any public education institution. We have patterned our school after humanist institutions only to sprinkle Christ onto our studies as one would sugar into a bitter drink; but this drink is poison. We pour this poison down our students' throats, but hang crosses on our walls and pray for their safety. We have failed to recognize academic unification under theology. A classical Christian academy recognizes and acts upon this truth, and with this understanding comes conviction. As so convicted, I must choose whether to stay in a school that is "Christ sprinkled", campaigning for a doubtful change, or, deo volente, move on to teach at a school with a truly "Christ centered", classical curriculum.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
As Christians we are a paradox. We are at one and the same time simul iustus et peccator (saint and sinner). Paul wrote of this seeming contradiction in Romans 7: "I see in my members another another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with the flesh I serve the law of Sin." (Romans 7:23-25) Simply stated, as Christians, we are made righteous through belief in Christ, whose righteousness covers us and is imputed to us, but we are sinners because we fall far short of God's law due to our sinful nature. As such, we Christians need to confess that we are, as the traditional Lutheran confession states, "poor miserable sinners." This confession, however dreary, is accurate and appropriate. However, we must not forget to rejoice in the forgiving love of Christ, who removes our guilt and sin, as announced and imparted in the absolution.