Hugh's News & Views (When Will We Listen)


(Part 1)

(Note: The following was written a few years ago and recently was added to the queue of articles to be used in “News & Views.” While some of the examples may now be a bit dated, the overall message is still relevant.)

Some time ago, Ray Waddle, former religion editor of The Tennessean, Nashville’s daily newspaper, reviewed a book by Michael Horton. The books title is A Better Way: Rediscovering the Drama of God-Centered Worship, published by Baker Books.

Horton is described as “a Protestant minister and professor in Southern California.” Waddle’s review of the book was very enlightening and extremely relevant to matters facing many churches, including some churches of Christ.

According to Waddle, Horton is dismayed at what he sees on the current Christian scene:

juiced-up worship experiences, shallow seeker-friendly services, relevant anti-intellectual preaching and endless debates about traditional vs. progressive styles of worship … based on merely clever CEO principles and fickle marketing surveys.

Horton wants something better from church life — “not video screens and 12-week sermons on debt-reduction but the drama of salvation itself.” According to Waddle, Horton says “every church service should be a renewal of the amazing divine covenant, through preaching, baptism, and communion.”

Horton is quoted as saying:

These days the world waits for the church to deliver something important — even if its a slap in the face. Not something big and flashy, mind you, but something important. Everybody has pretty much already said just about everything, over and over again, in this culture of bland, aphoristic sound bites and spin. People have been sold just about everything and are less happy than their grandparents who lived through the Depression. They aren’t waiting for another March for Jesus but for an arresting announcement that makes them stop in their tracks and reevaluate everything.

(A “March for Jesus” is another one of those passing fads that superficial religious folks became enamored with a few years ago, but it has been awhile since I heard of anyone “Marching for Jesus.” Most of those who did so have now jumped on another “bandwagon” of some kind).

Again, according to Waddle, Horton’s purpose in writing the book is “to shift the Christian counterculture away from noisy extravaganzas and light shows to something beyond the reach of pop culture manipulation—awe of God and God’s plan for the world.”

It sounds as if this is a book that many preachers and elders in churches of Christ need to read. However, it does not (based on Ray Waddle’s review) say anything that God has not already said, nor anything for which faithful preachers and elders have not been contending all along.

For some inexplicable reason, some people and some churches apparently cannot be content with God’s simple plan of salvation and His divine arrangement for worship. They become enamored with the marketplace and the demands of culture. Perhaps out of fear that they are not growing at the rate they feel they should be growing or because they see the excitement in other churches, they opt to leave the old ways and to experiment with the novel.

In this connection, many need to read again the exhortation of Jeremiah 6:16 and heed it! Here is what it says:

“Thus says the Lord: ‘Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; then you will find rest for your souls.'” “But” — like so many today — “they said, ‘We will not walk in it.'”

How sad! How unutterably sad!

Hugh Fulford, February 10, 2015