Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Jesus is My Girlfriend Worship?

Sometimes things like this make me wish I was an exclusive Psalm singer.  Songs that can be sung to a girl or to any human cannot be sung to God!

O.k., so you're probably wondering what I'm talking about.  Well, this past Lord's Day, Rick Warren of Saddleback Church held his Easter service at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, CA.  At this Easter "worship" service, Warren had the Jonas Brothers do "a three-song session" (or performance) to close the nearly two hour service, worship service.  A service reportedly devoted to worshiping God was closed with a performance by a popular boyband, singing Easter classics like "Hold On," A Little Bit Longer" and "Gotta Find You."

Now apparently the last song was written by a member of Saddleback Church, so certainly it should be about the resurrection, Jesus, or at least about God, right?!  Unfortunately, no!  Well, at least we're really not sure since the song had been originally sung to a teenage girl in the ABC Family television show Camp Rock.  Now if you can sing a song to a girl, and then later sing that same song to God as worship, then either your view of that girl is way too high, or, the more likely scenario is that your view of God is much too low.  In fact, it is what the Bible refers to as idolatry.

Below is a video clip that shows the song being sung at the Easter service compared to when it was sung to a girl.  I do not endorse the man that introduces the clips nor his cynicism, although the idolatry it reveals is quite flagrant and shocking. 

Songs that can be sung to a girl or to any human cannot be sung to God!


  1. I think that this is . . . typical. It's typical of the mainstream, sadly.

    Since I now go to an Acts 29 church, I'm getting an up close glimpse at a user-friendly atmosphere. To their credit, though, the church I attend does have songs & hymns that aren't - as another blogger once put it - "love songs to Jesus". The lyrics are quite solid. Contemporary? Yes, but solid.

    One of the things I'm having to wrestle through right now is dealing with a mega-church-lite culture.

    Now, Saddleback is not an Acts 29 church. It's a whole different entity within contemporary Christendom. With Saddleback Church, however, you're dealing with one of the largest mega-churches in the nation. A church that just wants to keep getting bigger, too. How do you draw people in by the masses? You appeal not to intellect, but to emotions.

    Deep within the heart of any human is a desire to be understood and known. Often, especially with emotionally/hormonally charged teenagers, this is expressed in having a boyfriend or girlfriend. The leaders and performers are making an ill attempt at drawing from that and pushing it in the direction of heaven.

    This approach is effective in drawing the masses, but - as you correctly pointed out - it's too low of a view of God.

  2. David, I could not bring myself to watch the video :)

    Good point, Mrs. Larijani :) John Piper talks about taking the grace we receive from God, vertically and bending it out horizontally to others, this is the opposite, taking that feeling you have felt toward others and trying to send it vertically up to God. Like some kind of crazy pole vaulter. The pole will snap!

    Plus, what happens in Camp Rock should probably stay in Camp Rock.

  3. I can hear the excuses and rationalizations now, beginning with the ever persuasive "Well, Luther transformed pub songs into songs for worship..." And then would probably follow the more recent and seemingly sophisticated argument about redeeming (pop) culture for Christ. Even as these are spoken, however, their falaciousness is apparent; so the ace in the hole is eventually played..."Paul became all things to all people so that he might save some." You can just hear the sound of scripture being twisted in that one. Yet there it is, scripture itself clearly teaches that evangelism trumps all, that worship is a means to evangelism, not vice versa, and that the 2nd commandment doesn't apply to those who are really, really trying to reach the lost.

    By the way, did you hear that Rick Warren will be featured at Piper's upcoming Shepherd's Conference?

  4. Carrie, thank you for your comments. I try to use a judgment of charity, but even this situation really pushes me to my limit. The issue is never about timing, i.e., if worship is "contemporary," but whether or not it is biblical in that it is "reflective of the splendor, majesty and glory that is due to God because he is a God of splendor, majesty and glory," (see my previous post: http://apilgrimsredress.blogspot.com/2009/11/old-wine-in-new-wineskins-giving.html

    Paul's words in Phil 1.15-18 are very helpful in a time like this. There he points out that Christ is not always preached for the right reasons, but he nonetheless rejoices that he is preached. Paul rejoices that Jesus is preached even by those who have bad motives without trying to justify the person with the bad motives. He rejoices in the evangelism and points out the sin. He doesn't take a "the ends justify the means" perspective.

  5. Jonesy! Welcome! Now if we could just get your hubby to join the fray. It was probably wise not to watch the video, it can stir up the flesh as much as the spirit. Very insightful comments.

  6. Matthew, I think you're right about the typical justification for such activities; see my response to Carrie above.

    Yes, I did know about Piper's invitation to Warren and watched the video Piper posted for justifying that invitation, and it will be interesting to see if Piper responds to this.

    But I didn't want this post to be about a man, I want it to be about the issue, because unfortunately this type of idolatry is not just found in mega seeker-sensitive churches, it is found everywhere. Thanks for your insights.

  7. I wish that this problem was limited to the mainstream. I remember that fateful Friday chapel at Covenant College which I sadly forgot to skip. It was a diversity week praise and worship chapel. I watched in horror as the Covenant College Hip Hop Dance Team performed to the song Crunk for Christ.

    Now you can argue that this was not a worship service, though its structure was suspiciously similar to a worship service. The bottom line is what happens at Covenant tends to be a precursor to what is going to happen in the broader reformed church.