It has often been asserted that the driving factor behind CW (contemporary worship) is bringing people into the church. Noble sounding but untrue!
It has occurred to me as I’ve watched our churches wend their way through the nineties that CW does not ease unbelievers into the church (as it claims) but rather that it ushers believers out of the church. And for that reason I call it a very clever tool of the devil.
What is my proof for such a statement? As one who has investigated and analyzed CW and its attendant theology more closely than most, I can answer that question in one word: content.
The songs, creeds au-courant, sermons and whatever liturgical formulations normally make up the bulk of the CW service are virtually Christless. God-centered maybe; Christ-centered no! To focus on God and not on Christ is the difference between living Christianity and dead Christianity. It is the difference between humble, reverent children of God and self-righteous legalists; the difference between eternal glory and eternal damnation.
But before anyone runs to their “Other Song Book” or “Worship and Praise” hymnals to prove me wrong let me say this — that what little explicit Gospel these contemporary hymns do contain is usually so vague as to be useless, and nearly always intermingled with law. Read the words, the sentences, the phrases and the thought patterns and you’ll see what I mean.
In CW theology, Jesus is more the great example than the great Savior; more the psychologist than the sin-bearer; more the recipient and lover of our verbal praise than the object of true and saving faith. He is more the glorified Lord than the Suffering Servant. And it is this little tilt that sends Christians sliding down the steep and slippery road to hell! For when this gentle shift of the devil is made then men no longer think about, talk much about or depend on the blood and suffering and agony of God’s Son for salvation — but rather on their own praising and worshiping to make them acceptable before God. While few Lutherans recognize what they are actually doing (pastor and layman alike), actions do speak louder than any protests to the contrary.
At least CW theology is consistent They don’t really need a Savior (the kind which the Bible proclaims Jesus to be) because CW churches don’t really preach the Law. They do preach the first use of the law a little. And it’s a well know fact that they spend 95% of their content on the third use of the law (sanctification).
But they hardly ever preach the second use of the law, that which convicts all people including Christians of damnable sin and worthy of God’s everlasting wrath. The reason in a word is “flesh”.
Our proud flesh hates the law of God.
It is not subject to His law. Never will be. Never can be. (Rom. 8,7).
The second use of the law is frightening! For it always brings our unworthiness to mind. It shows us that Christians are, in fact, poor, miserable sinners, un-glorious as one could ever be and utterly helpless to do anything about it. God’s Holy Law makes demands of us we cannot keep, asks us questions we cannot answer and holds us responsible for our failure. In God’s court we cannot plead ignorance, insanity, bad upbringing or any other mitigating factor. The second use of the law proclaims to all alike, believers and unbelievers that we are poor, naked, wretched and blind. That we are dead to the things of God and that nothing awaits us but Divine anger and retribution.
But it is only such preaching which can prepare us to hear the Good News of Christ. That Gospel, that the Son of God who knew no sin was made sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Cor 5,20. The wonderful proclamation of God that on the cross the sinless died for sinners, the righteous for the unrighteous, the creator for the created.
But if you are unfortunate enough to sit under a CW ministry you will never seek living water because you don’t know thirst! You will never seek the Light of Christ because you have been deceived into thinking that you are not all that dark and that you have light enough within yourself. And this is why CW, rather than leading lost souls to Christ (as is claimed) ushers the Savior’s lambs into the Kingdom of Darkness.
Repent, then, you CW pastors and “worship teams leaders”. Stop doing the devil’s work. Stop confusing Law and Gospel. Stop watering down the blood of the Savior. Come to Christ and confess your sins of being false prophets. Talk no more about how many people come to hear you and gaze upon your wonderful worship and the swelling numbers of your churches — for the false prophets in Israel always had a larger and more devoted following than the true prophets. Come to Christ with humility — or tie a millstone around your neck and throw yourselves into the sea, for Jesus says you will be better off doing this than causing his little ones to worship
themselves. Repent and believe the Gospel. And God will forgive you and restore you to His true service.
Rev. Dean Kavouras