Humility in the “Worship Wars”

In his outstanding book, Tempted & Tried:  Temptation & the Triumph of Christ, Russell Moore meditates on narcissism and humility.  He takes disagreements about musical styles in worship as an example of how we can exalt our personal preferences to the level of divine revelation …

“We need more worship wars, not fewer:  What is the war looked like this in your congregation–the young singles petitioning the church to play more of the old classics for the sake of the elderly people, and the elderly people calling on the leadership to contemporize for the sake of the young new believers?  This would signal a counting of others as more important than ourselves (Phil. 2:3), which comes from the Spirit of the humiliated, exalted King, Christ (Phil. 2:5-11).  When I insist that the rest of the congregation serve as backup singers in my own little nostalgic hit parade of back-home Mississippi hymns, I am worshiping in the spirit all right, but not   the Holy Spirit.  I am worshiping myself, in the spirit of self-exaltation.  The church negates the power of the third temptation [of Christ–to accept control of the world from Satan’s hands] when we remind ourselves that we all have this devilish tendency and cast it aside whether in worship planning or missions or budget decisions” (Tempted & Tried, 150).

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