Saturday, March 8, 2008

A "Worship Renewal" of Apostasy

As of late, there has been quite a bit of talk on my blog about church today. Where it is in the history of "time". The need for physical fellowship. Apostasy from sound doctrine. So naturally this article immediately grabbed my attention. Read this article and tell me if we do not need to reevaluate everything that is considered "Christian" in today's society. Please pay special attention to what pastors and reverends are saying as well. My comments are in blue. Underlined texts are the sentiments I am responding to.

The following article is:

By Jacqueline L. Salmon

Evangelicals' new twist on LentCatholic traditions adopted as 'worship renewal'

Evangelicals observing Lent?

Fasting, and giving up chocolate and favorite pastimes like watching TV during the 40 days before Easter are practices many evangelical Protestants have long rejected as too Catholic and unbiblical.

But Lent -- a time of inner cleansing and reflection upon Jesus Christ's sufferings before his resurrection -- is one of many ancient church practices being embraced by an increasing number of evangelicals, sometimes with a modern twist. The National Community Church, which has three locations in the District and one in Arlington County, updated the Lenten fast by adding a Web component: a 40-day blog, where participants from as far away as Australia, Korea and Mexico discuss their spiritual cleansing.

This increasing connection with Christianity's classical traditions goes beyond Lent. Some evangelical churches offer confession and weekly communion. They distribute ashes on Ash Wednesday and light Advent calendars at Christmastime. Others have formed monastic communities, such as Casa Chirilagua in Alexandria, modeled on the monasteries that arose in Christianity's early years.

(Somehow, I don't think they're talking about the book of Acts in the Bible.)

This represents a "major sea change in evangelical life," according to D.H. Williams, professor of patristics and historical theology at Baylor University. "Evangelicalism is coming to point where the early church has become the newest staple of its diet."

(Once again, I don't think they're talking about the book of Acts in the Bible, maybe they should redefine the term "early".)

Experts say most who have taken on such practices have grown disillusioned with the contemporary, shopping-center feel of the megachurches embraced by baby boomers, with their casually dressed ministers and rock-band praise music.

Instead, evangelicals -- many of them young -- are adopting a trend that has come to be known as "worship renewal" or "ancient-future worship."

'Hunger for deeper engagement'
Those familiar with the trend say it is practiced mostly by small, avant-garde evangelical churches, though not always. Last summer, the national convention of the 2.5 million-member Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, an evangelical wing of the Lutheran denomination, voted to revive private confession.

"I definitely sense a hunger for acknowledgment of life's mysteries and of the mystery and beauty of God," said John Witvliet, director of the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship in Grand Rapids, Mich., which recently hosted a "worship renewal" conference for 1,500 people. "There's a hunger for deeper engagement -- 'Don't just sell me a product at church, but really put me in touch with the mystery and beauty of God.' "

(In other words, "worship renewal" acts will bring you closer to the mystery and beauty of God. Never mind the fact that Jesus Christ died so that we all can have equal access to His Spirit, by which He teaches us ALL things, even the "mystery of the Gospel" (Eph. 6:19) Truly, I could careless about how the religions of the world choose to operate, but if you're going to remove Christ from the equation of "deeper engagement" you going to have find another term by which you can call yourself, for such apostasy from sound doctrine deserves another name other than Christian.)

But there are plenty of critics who reject the practices as "mystical spirituality" that don't belong in evangelical Christianity.

"It is the same style of meditation that is basically being performed by Eastern religion practitioners," said Deborah Dumbowski, who with her husband, Dave, started an Oregon publishing house, Web site and 25,000-name e-newsletter to oppose the incorporation of such elements into evangelical worship. "It's being presented as Christianity, and we're saying this isn't Christianity -- not according to what the Bible says. . . . We believe it really does deny the gospel message."

(Thank YOU!!!!)

Defenders, however, refute that devotees of such practices are straying from bedrock evangelical beliefs.

"They're still in love with their Bible. They're still in love with their God. They still see the Bible as their primary authority," said Chris Armstrong, associate professor of church history at Bethel Seminary in St. Paul, Minn., who has studied the trend. "But their experience is one of churches that look too much like the rest of the world -- a little bit too much like malls or rock concerts."

("Still" an interesting term to use... almost sounds like an acknowledgement of departure.

Yeah, I can tell...scripture please.)

Reviving communion
Weekly communion -- where worshipers share bread and wine, or juice, in remembrance of Jesus Christ -- has long taken a back seat in evangelical churches, but is undergoing a revival.

At Common Table, a weekly lay-led church that gathers at a Vienna coffeehouse for an unconventional service that features skits, group discussion and Quaker-style silence, worshipers line up to take communion from bread purchased at a nearby grocery store and sip wine out of a pottery chalice or grape juice from plastic cups.

"In a church likes ours, it serves the role of being that anchor that continually ties us back to the larger Christian church and to Christian history," said Deanna Doan, a member since its founding in 2001.

(Another reference to history. Let's put aside the fact the Christ IS our anchor as He IS the Head of the Church. It is obvious they are referring to Catholic history and not biblical history (Book of Acts), in their reference of "Christian history". Otherwise there would be no such thing as "worship renewal" or renewals of Catholic traditions.)

First Baptist Church of the City of Washington D.C. follows the liturgical calendar observed by Catholic churches. It lights candles at Advent, and observes Epiphany Sunday and the remainder of the traditional cycle of liturgical celebrations.

"We find that following the seasons of the Christian year adds a lot of richness to our experience of worship," said the Rev. James Somerville, the church's pastor, adding: "We wouldn't want the Catholics to get all the good stuff."

(!!!!!! Scary.....very scary.)

Updating, branding their own traditions
For the most part, though, young evangelicals aren't just reviving ancient traditions. They are stamping them with their own updated brand.

Confession -- a staple of Catholicism -- is appearing in different formats. Thousands of people, for example, have posted anonymous online confessions on church-run Web sites like, and Those posting have confided feelings of guilt over abortions or their homosexuality, while others have confessed to extramarital affairs, stealing, eating disorders, addictions -- even murder.

"We do believe there is value in confessing our sins to each other," said Bobby Gruenewald, pastor at, an Oklahoma-based megachurch that runs, which has received 7,500 confessions since it started in 2006. Ministers and volunteers pray over the confessions as they come in. "This process may be a more modern way of people discovering the value of that tradition."

At Seacoast Church, which draws 10,000 people in Charleston, N.C., each Sunday, worshipers write their sins on pieces of paper and pin them to a cross. Volunteers later remove the pieces of paper and pray over them. The practice, said Pastor Greg Surratt, "has ramped up the sense of God's presence and power in incredible ways."


A growing wave of "new monastics" have updated the role of traditional monks. They share apartments or houses, have outside jobs and wear street clothes instead of habits. But they still believe in collective living, caring for the poor, a humble submission to Jesus Christ, and a commitment to a disciplined, contemplative life.

The number of monastic communities has grown from about 15 to almost 100 in the last decade, according to Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, an evangelical monk in North Carolina and author of "New Monasticism: What It Has to Say to Today's Church."

(Now there's a term I thought I would NEVER hear!)

Casa Chirilagua is a nine-month-old monastic community in Alexandria formed by three women and is one of six such communities in the Washington area. Casa Chirilagua residents pray every morning, have pledged to remain celibate while single, and assist low-income immigrants in the community.

Says 26-year-old Casa Chirilagua member Dawnielle Miller: "It's communal, it's intentional and we focus on loving God and loving others."


Evangelicals' new twist on Lent (on MSNBC web page)


  1. OUCH!

    I'd say it's symptomatic not just of an ecumenical movement, but how that many modern churches are not providing the food that many thirst for through their brand of entertainment, Contemporary Christian music (CCM) and the like.

    So much so that people are looking for alternatives on the other end of the scale and in the process get lulled into this 'early church' movement.

    There seems to be growing interest in the first century church and what it was all about. You brought up a good point about actually defining the term 'early'.

    This has given me some thoughts and I'll write them on a post in my blog in response instead of starting the essay here, lol!

    Thanks for posting this, Hannah.


  2. Hi Isaiah!

    Yes, its only natural that people are seeking to be "fed". When you remove or "down play" the power of Christ (Holy Spirit) from the gospel, all you really have is idle (idol) worship.

    Its even sadder when they engage further in unbiblical worship. Its truly a heart matter of each individual. Are they actually confused, misled or genuinely seeking or are they engaging in "itching ears" behavior? Only God knows.

    However, the statements made by the leaders of churches in this article are simply inexcusable.

    I look forward to your post! God speed!

  3. I only have a minute, but I wanted to say that I agree with you on most points. The only part I don't have a problem with, is the sharing of the Lord's Supper during the service, each and every week. Though we don't belong to a church that does this (we have recently left our church home, and are looking for a new one), the early church (In Acts) did engage in the Lord's Supper every week. It's my opinion, that this is something we should all be doing. Not in the Catholic sense, but in the sense that Jesus did at the Last Supper. Anyway, just my two cents. I do agree that it's scary about the other parts. Blessings to you!

  4. This comment can be considered an addition to my post:

    The bottom, very basic line is this: if you SEEK a relationship with Christ outside of Faith in Him, anything you "do" to achieve this, is based on "works", and is not acceptable in the eyes of God.

    "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber." -- John 10:1

    "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." -- John 14:6

    Let me be clear so that there is not confusion to what I'm testifying of, if you seek any OTHER means of righteousness OUTSIDE of Faith, it is the same as denying Him.

    "They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate." -- Titus 1:16

    Maybe some of you may find my comments in the post too strong, let me express that I find that people are not offended enough! Maybe my tone and sentiments may prove distracting from the overall point of the article, but the fact remains they (people named in article) are promoting apostasy by encouraging "closeness" to God by works (worship routines) and not by faith!

    I could probably apologize to those of you who are offended by my comments in the post (or in this comment), but I won't. Who, then will be bold for Christ? Who will be bold for truth?

    I'm not looking for anyone to "agree" with me. Nor am I the kind of person who finds comfort in being "agreed with". It's about the TRUTH of the Gospel...pure and simple. Please don't "agree" with me. Agree with the Word!

    Dearest Shalene,

    The overall comments I made in the post is directed at the simple fact that ANY "works" outside of Faith is apostasy.

    Participation in the Lord's Supper should be done in Faith, NOT as how it is being presented by church leaders in this article, as a ritual means of "getting closer" to God.

    If everyone should do it, in your opinion, then what does it mean for those who do not partake in this type of worship, yet walk by Faith, daily, in reliance upon the Spirit? Are they in sin? In error?

    The physical, symbolic act of communion conveys the principle (truth) of spiritual communion...Christ dwelling within us, by their Faith in Him, done in rememberance of Him. Many Christians partake of this type of worship weekly, and "forget" Him the other six days of the week.

    John 6:56-57
    "He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.

    As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me"

    The principle of that symbolic act is reiterated throughout the Word, for it is the VERY principle He sacrificed for, for us...for His Father... John 15:1-10

    In the end, it is the principle OF the act we MUST apply DAILY,not the act itself (be it weekly, monthly or yearly)

    By Faith, we do the act symbolic OF the principle (the Truth, the Gospel), and not because the principle manifests from the act.

    John 4:24

    "God is a Spirit: and they that worship him MUST worship him in spirit and in truth"
    (emphasis mine in scripture)

    God blessings upon you and yours...

  5. They seem like they're into Catholic mysticism due to some key words like 'meditation' (and they don't mean Godly meditation) and 'contemplative.' I have nothing but contempt for Catholicism because I am convinced it is repackaged Satanism! Now does that sound harsh? It's supposed to! They are the blind leading the blind as far as I'm concerned. If they truly loved the Lord and His truths, then they would raise the same objections you raised. But instead, they got on board.

    I'm going to stop now because this is a hot button for me and I will go OFF!

    Thanks for posting this and for giving your input.


  6. Carol,

    Have I mentioned that I just adore your spunk? :)

    I'm in total agreement in regards to Catholicism for the very simple reason that they worship Mary (as well as other "saints") and call her "queen of heaven" a name of an idol that can be found in the Old Testament in the book of Jeremiah.

    "The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead their dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto other gods, that they may provoke me to anger" -- Jeremiah 7:18

    Other references to the same name can be found in the 44th chapter.

    Your sentiments of satanism isn't far off at all, and now Evangelists are promoting the same practices.

    I simply cannot escape the truth of Scripture...."For the time will come when they will NOT endure sound doctrine..." 2 Timothy 4:3
    (emphasis mine)

    I can only pray that those of you who consider yourselves apart of the Christian culture, take heed and evaluate ALL you have come to know to be "Christian"....

    God Speed...

  7. (Somehow, I don't think they're talking about the book of Acts in the Bible.)

    Actually, I live in a sister community of Casa Chirilagua and, while the author's phrasing doesn't really indicate this, there's a strong manifestation Acts 2 & 4 community in both. Sure it's not perfect, but it's 1000 closer than what is seen in 99.99999% of "churches."

    Almost all "american churches" today have moved far from the teachings of scripture. They are selective based upon their personal agendas.

    Those of us who have chosen to move into "intentional Christian communities" desire to be the Church each and every day in the ways that we live our lives. We reject the notion of church as a location, destination, institution, building, or event; the Church is the people of God as we respond to His love through our obedience. Every day we seek to love the LORD our God with all our hearts, minds, and souls and to love or neighbors as God has loved us.

    What many of us had discovered after college, was that, even though we were doing all the churchy things (going to worship, praying, leading small groups, going on missions, feeding the hungry in our city), we progressively were becoming more and more american and less and less followers of Christ. I looked back in my life to when I was growing in my faith as a follower and realized that a key component that I was missing was "gathering together daily." When I was in college, I could meet with many people each night, hearing about their days and challenging and encouraging one another to faithfullness. That wasn't happening in my americanized christian life. This Acts 2 & 4 "life together" is foreign to the american life and the american church.

    We desired to be followers of the Risen Lord, so in obedience with scripture and the Holy Spirit, we moved into community with one another.

    Life in community is hard, my sin is laid bare every day. The wonderful thing though is that Christ is transforming us and teaching us and drawing us closer in the process.

    And as we meet our neighbors and show them what it means to "be disciples" they are understanding the Gospel (slowly, but deeply and surely).

    (In other words, "worship renewal" acts will bring you closer to the mystery and beauty of God. Never mind the fact that Jesus Christ died so that we all can have equal access to His Spirit, by which He teaches us ALL things, even the "mystery of the Gospel" (Eph. 6:19) Truly, I could careless about how the religions of the world choose to operate, but if you're going to remove Christ from the equation of "deeper engagement" you going to have find another term by which you can call yourself, for such apostasy from sound doctrine deserves another name other than Christian.)

    As I hope I have revealed to you, Christ is the head of all of our communities (though we certainly struggle). I believe that the Holy Spirit is for all believers. But here's the thing, the Holy Spirit works through relationship--through prayer, study, and intimacy with God. That's the desire of everyone I know who appears in this article.

    We are a people responding to Christ's love, salvation, and Lordship and the revelation of scripture and the Holy Spirit. I don't know where you live, but I would love for you to come and visit our communities and see for yourself.

    You can check out my community "Culpeper House" online at and my blog "At the Margins" at

  8. Matt,

    Thank you for taking the time to share your comments.

    Reading the article, its very clear to me that the "early church" references Catholic history, with no mention of scripture.

    While you say that there is a "strong manifestation" of Acts 2 & 4 in your community, monasticism originates from Catholicism and implies catholic beliefs, OR AT LEAST the belief that the "early Catholic church" years are good enough to "model".

    The second comment I made, (your selection) I 100% stand by. This is what the author said...

    "There's a hunger for deeper engagement -- 'Don't just sell me a product at church, but really put me in touch with the mystery and beauty of God.' "

    The fact that "worship renewal" is a "way" to put you in touch with God IS a departure of scripture. The Word is clear that you cannot access God outside of your Faith in Christ Jesus. The Word is clear that you cannot be saved outside Grace (opposite of works) (John 14:6; John 10:1)

    You say...."Sure it's not perfect, but it's 1000 closer than what is seen in 99.99999% of "churches."

    You know... I used to be apart of the World Wide Church of God, fifteen years ago. They used to claim that they were the "true" church. It was based upon the fact that they were "different" than mainstream Christian churches. While we kept Jewish holy days and traditions, we also accepted Jesus Christ as the Son of God, hence we were different than ALL.

    There are many churches out there claiming the same thing, many of those churches have taken a "leave" of some sort or fashion in an effort to be different.

    I respectfully have to say, I'm not necessarily interested in how your "group" is different that most churches, being "different" is no indication that it is "right". I would be much more impressed if the wholesome truth of the Gospel of Christ Jesus was defended boldly, wholeheartedly.

    You single out my comments responding to statements made in the article, why am I the focus of what someone else said?

    If you DO believe that "worship renewal" is a way to get closer to God. Then I take nothing back, For the Word is CLEAR.

    If you DON'T, then there needs to be some responsibility to correct the leaders of the beliefs that you hold to be true.

    Once again thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.


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