Wednesday, April 10, 2013

On Institutions and Controversies About What Happens in Chapel

Awhile back, I spent several years in institutions that professed allegiance to expository preaching and a literal, grammatical, historical hermeneutic. Those were great years. I benefited immensely. But looking back, I sure do wish someone had granted me permission to walk out of chapel every time I was offended because those commitments were abandoned and preachers <i>said</i> God said something that God <i>never actually said</i>.

I do wonder what we reveal about what we love most when folks will bicker to no end over an institution's change (yes, change, I do believe!) in musical styles, though infidelity to the Word was tolerated for years.


Michael Riley said...

This is certainly a fair point. That said, don't you think that some of the current uproar has to do with the fact that the change is going on right now? Suppose one of these institutions actually had a track record of coherent expositional preaching, and then publicly switched approaches to preaching, advocating nonsense. It seems to me that we might see, from those concerned about such things similar disquiet.

In two years, once the shock of the change passes and once it is apparent that the new direction is permanent, I suspect that there won't be any more lively discussions on this subject about this school

Ben said...

Oh I'm sure that the gear-grinding nature of the change is a factor. But I can't think of any historical evidence that would lead me to believe that anyone in the world we're talking about would ever make faithful pulpit exposition a public, decisive factor in a relationship with an institution. Perhaps I'm mistaken.

Dan said...

I was surprised to learn that the Bible speaks directly to musical styles of the early 21st century. Amazing!

Ben said...


I wouldn't want anyone to think that I believe musical style is inconsequential. My preferences for corporate worship tend to be quite conservative—certainly more conservative than the vast majority of evangelicals, Baptists, fundamentalists—no matter how you slice it. Perhaps I could describe them as something more than preferences. I might be able to go so far as to call them sensibilities or judgments.

I'd love few things more than to possess the ability to articulate a case that would let me claim they're convictions, but I've not yet encountered one that's sufficiently persuasive. I don't have any such reticence to say it is my conviction that we have no right to claim that a text says something that God didn't say. I think American churches (and institutions) would be better off if everybody agreed with me. But what blogger doesn't think that?

Ben said...

One more thing I forgot to mention in that comment . . . I follow the podcasts of two Christian colleges. One of them is NIU. I haven't listened to all of the sermons this school year, but I've caught several from both. One of the things I've appreciated about NIU is the fact that their chapel sermons are working passage by passage through the book of Galatians. I'm not sure whether this is the first year for the practice or not. At the other school, the sermons I've heard (which admittedly are only a subset) have been almost without exception the pseudo-expositional, gospel-less, moralism that I've heard throughout my life.

I do perceive that there are people who will argue that irreverent music is more dangerous than non-expositional preaching. I appreciate their concerns. I'm simply unconvinced that Scripture supports the judgments they've reached concerning their priorities.

Tim Batchelor said...

Hi Ben,

Did you see this blog post from Dr. Olson?

-Tim Batchelor

Tim Batchelor said...

Sorry forgot the link:

Bill said...

I appreciate your comments Ben.