Well, that’s really the point. Hymn based, contemporary music, southern gospel, none of that matters to me. It’s all the cultural trappings people want to feel confortable with what they are doing each Sunday morning. For some, they need to sense that service is an active, actual part of their lives, not something isolated and distant. For others, they need service to be just that, something that they feel gets them out of the ordinary, to help them see their lives with a different perspective.
I grew up first in my Dad’s tradition of southern gospel, Southern Baptist. the preacher was always a big man and always one of three or four brothers that sang in perfect harmony. Later it was my Mom’s preference of Presbyterian church. Then out on my own I went mostly charismatic, though, theologically I am not charismatic. I did like the sense, as you say of engagement, more freely giving of myself rather than controlled, stuffed shirt sensibility.
It’s all emotional. The difference is which emotion. It’s all intellectual. It is just the difference of the route to the intellect. We are created fully as emotional and intellectual beings. It is really impossibe to seperate one out from the other, no matter how we may think we can or try to. Our minds really do need to be renewed to more fully understand our emotions.
The irony is I’ve seen the legalism you discuss at the heart of both wings of worship culture. I attended this one church because I thought they had fairly sound theology. I am not a hymn guy, but I kind of don’t really care that much. I can bear it. But they could not come to grips with my long hair and artist background. Art was a hobby, not a career. And I was foolish to think I should make a living as an artist. Men don’t wear long hair unless they are trying to “look pretty”. Responsible men certainly don’t make a living as an artist.
Then we attended a more, what is referred to in Christian circles, emotion driven church (charasmatic). But even there emotion was a legalistic notion. You were expected to have emotional outbursts. That was how you knew you were being moved by the spirit. The more irrational the better. Running and laughing uncontrollably was the best. And they could accept my artistry as long as I was playing guitar for them at every service.
But my work causes me to travel often. This caused great consternation for the music minister. So he also tried to scripturally justify why I couldn’t make a living as an artist.
The REAL irony is how both taught that emotions lie. At the charismatic church, it wasn’t emotion, it was the Spirit. At the conservative church, obviously it wasn’t emotion, it was intellect. Sound, verse by verse exegesis.
Emotions don’t lie. Our intellect lies to us about our emotions, telling us something is love when it isn’t. Our intellect doesn’t understand or worse, tries to twist our emotions into something they are not.
Culturally speaking, my favorite services were the jazz services at Redeemer in NYC. The only time I felt comfortable musically.
I don’t attend church anymore.