Pentecostal worship: What's at Stake

The strong emphasis of the praise and worship movement has been prolonged, and is set to continue. When it comes to 'worship', there is more at stake than just a confusion of terms.

The gospel

Whole sections of Christianity around the globe have experienced a blurring of the gospel itself. The worship movement distracts Christians from the vital and assuring truth of Christ as the perfect worshiper of God on their behalf who has permanently secured for them their intimacy with God. The consequence is that Christians are robbed of their assurance.

Christian living

The Pentecostal and charismatic movement's view of and emphasis on worship confuses the nature of the Christian life which is to chiefly involve worship in the New Testament sense: a continual faith response to God of holy living, obedience and generous service from a heart of thanksgiving to Christ. Instead, the Pentecostal movement has many Christians thinking that their weekly lives hinge on spending quantified time each day speaking in 'tongues' (ecstatic or simply unintelligable vocalisations). The praise and worship movement also has many Christians focusing their daily efforts on momentary connections with the emotion of their relationship with God, helped on by a whole genre and industry of praise and worship music cds. Their weekend life similarly revolves around the climax of their corporate public worship events.

The result of this emphasis is that church meetings and private encounters with God are seen to be the place where God’s blessing is received, even the necessary place. This was intrinsically clear when Hillsong's music proclaimed that God’s blessings were found ‘in this place’ and ‘in the secret place’ where God is. In other words, a special blessing is found in God's special presence (which is personal and intimate). And God's special presence is 'entered' via ‘worship’.

In this movement, the event or activity of ‘worship’ has become the mediator of God’s blessings to his people. Since ‘worship’ is understood within the movements as the way or means by which we approach God, then the error of the Charismatic and Pentecostal movement is that it makes an event or activity the mediator of Christian's approach to God.

To do this is to rebuild the earthly tent: the worship movement reintroduces the Old Testament model of human mediation in relating to God, and an unauthorised one at that. It indirectly teaches that what is needed when coming to God is the gospel plus a human element. And so in this emphasis on ‘praise and worship’ the Charismatic and Pentecostal movements have let go of the absolute sufficiency of what Christ has done for us through his death and resurrection. This is offering an alternative gospel, because it offers a different way of drawing near to God, other than through faith in Christ alone.

Christian growth

The praise and worship movement has distracted generations of Christians within the Charismatic and Pentecostal movement from the God-given task of ‘edification’ and ‘fellowship’. Our shared responsibility is to build one another up in faith and join together with others in true Christian communion. But charismaticism has the tendency to promote a self-absorbing culture because Christians are overly focused on building themselves up in their individual journey to achieve fullness in God. The unfortunate result is that Christians – who lack the teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness that comes from the Scriptures (2 Tim 3:16) – are left lacking in good works, and consequently left spiritually immature in Christ. | joe towns: christian discussion on pentecost, charisma, pentecostal and charismatic beliefs, the Bible and Jesus; including the origin and history of pentecostalism, baptism in the Holy Spirit, speaking in tongues, gifts and miracles, divine healing and word of faith, prosperity and wealth, praise and worship, guidance and hearing the voice of the Holy Spirit.