Traditional v. Contemporary

There is a popular but divisive position that many in churches of Christ are taking today with regard to the worship assembly. It is becoming increasingly popular to cater to the whims of the uninformed with worship “styles.” First, the Bible mentions no “styles” of worship. This revelatory void is testament enough that “styles” are not divinely authorized and should not even be considered. Second, one might ask: why innovate? What motives the “worship-styler”?

Alternative-worship “styles” are not a new thing (Ecclesiastes 1:9). God’s people, from Cain to Lucado, have invited scrutiny and condemnation for digressive worship. Jeroboam’s motivation was clear: fear that he would lose “his” people to the truth (1 Kings 12:27). For the Pharisees, it was an addiction to tradition (Matthew 15:9). Just before a Divine silence of some 400 years, God spoke through Malachi, pressing the children of Israel to answer for their abhorrent worship practices. He asked, why do you offer to Me less than your own governors would accept, dishonoring God and defiling His altar, and call it good (1:8)? The explanation was their attitude: “You also say, ‘Oh, what a weariness!’” (1:13a, emp. JDS). This explains why they would offer blemished sacrifices and expect God to accept it.

It is the same attitude today that whines about “traditional” worship being too boring, passé, or outmoded. Since when did authorized, God-approved acts of worship become a source of weariness? Correct worship to God is both traditional and contemporary. It is traditional in that we are to keep the traditions that have been delivered to us (2 Thessalonians 2:15) and contemporary in that God’s directives never go out of style in spite of the dynamic nature of culture (Hebrews 13:8). The real issue is not one of “style” but of happy, humble submission.

JDS