Guarding the The Church’s Song

Be vigilant to fight the commodification of the church’s song. Resist anything that blunts the fullness of the Christian gospel. Do not squelch the dimly burning wicks of voices at the margins whose songs may not otherwise be heard. Resist cultural imperialism. Embrace ways of creating, curating, receiving, and singing songs that demonstrate the shalom of God’s way in the world.

—John Witvliet, “Foreword,” in Walter A. Brueggemann, A Glad Obedience: Why and What We Sing (Kindle Locations 99-102)

Sing to the Lord (2)

Congregational singing, judged by the norms of our market culture, is an absurd enterprise: a group of intrepid people eagerly lining out poetry filled with archaic images and metaphors reflective of a prescientific worldview and singing ancient memories, hopes, and mysteries that contradict the “reason of the age.” Such singing, when done intentionally, is perfectly countercultural.

—Walter Brueggemann, A Glad Obedience: Why and What We Sing, Kindle Location 123-126

 

 

 

The Leveling Table

The Lord’s Table is a leveling reality in a world of increasing inequalities, an enacted vision of “a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine” (Isa. 25:6). This strange feast is the civic rite of another city—the Heavenly City—which is why it includes our pledge of allegiance, the Creed.

—James K. A. Smith, You Are What You Love:  The Spiritual Power of Habit, 98

Doxology to Doctrine

The incarnational Christology of the New Testament had its roots not in philosophical speculation, and still less in the gratuitous imitation of supposedly similar ideas in other religions and cultures, but in Christian experience of Jesus, both in His earthly ministry and in His risen power, and that it was the natural translation of this experience into an attitude of worship which provided the seedbed for New Testament Christology. To fail to explore and account for this attitude of worship, as has much modern discussion of the origins of Christology, is to discard the real life-situation of a warm and experience- centred devotion to Jesus in favour of a process of philosophical speculation which lacks an adequate starting-point in the life of the Christian church.

—R.T. France, “The Worship of Jesus: A Neglected Factor in Christological Debate?” in Christ the Lord: Studies in Christology Presented to Donald Guthrie, 33