Monthly Archives: March 2009

Where Are the Psalms? Conference: Robby Bell, part 2

This post continues the wonderful lecture by Robby Bell called Lament for a Wounded Faith.

  • 2 Areas where our theology needs refinement:
    1. Theology of worship and the church
      • Why is our worship so antiseptic?
      • Is the purpose of worship to forget our problems and sing happy songs?
      • Lamenting is about honesty in our worship.
      • We treat the Psalms of Lament as substandard parts of scripture.
    2. Theology of God’s response to our suffering
      • Stoic patience and acceptance is not the theme of the Bible.
      • Tension between now and then is removed in favor of the “then”.
      • Even in suffering, we continue to address our thoughts and fears to God as Job did.
  • We cannot expect people’s understanding of God to reach higher than their hymnbooks. – Jenkins
  • Lament can serve to disrupt and expose the idols in our heart.
  • Ultimate goal of lamenting before God is not miraculous intervention but intimacy with God. – Lane
  • God invites us to bring our wounds to him, to continue the dialogue with him.
  • Cast your cares upon the Lord, and he will sustain you.
  • Lament transforms us.
  • Lament, rightly engaged, always leads us to the cross.
  • Lament must intersect with the cross of Christ and his vicarious suffering.
  • The cross always leads us to Jesus, the perfector of our faith.
  • We lose something by not acknowledging the presence of what is there.
  • Acknowledging where we are doesn’t mean we stay there.
  • Too often, engaging the process scares us off.
  • Our prayers should be honest.

Where Are the Psalms? Conference: Robby Bell, part 1

The final session of the Where Are the Psalms? Conference was presented by Robby Bell, professor of counseling at Erskine Seminary. I took so many notes during this session that I’ve divided them into two posts.

In a conference that was rich on every front, this session probably impacted me the most, especially considering what Prof. Bell has gone through in the past couple of years. His session was entitled, Lament for a Wounded Faith.

  • No fitting words or means of transition from where we are to where we want to be are found in many churches.
  • One of the significant weaknesses in the American church is our inability to address hard times.
  • American Christianity is dying from a case of shallowness. – Hughes Oliphant Old
  • Christian Liturgy without lament becomes anorexic.
  • There’s no place in our worship for the expression of anguish or pain.
  • We don’t take Galatians 6.1-2 seriously.
  • The modern church demands that those who are mourning abandon them for the triumphant songs of Zion.
  • Christians turn into the tormentors of Psalm 137(!), demanding that the wounded sing happy songs.
  • The only help we can bring is “happy ease.”
  • In recent hymnals, among those that even include psalms to begin with, 75% of the omitted psalms have been psalms of lament.
  • We praise God for stability and the status quo.
  • More than half of the Psalms include lament.
  • Not a single text in the New Testament forbids lamenting. – K. Westerlund
  • Faith as trust & questioning vs. faith that is unquestioning. Which is more biblical?
  • Without lament, we truncate the New Testament as well as the Old Testament.
  • 1 Peter 4.12-13
  • We must teach our children how to lament.
  • The life of faith is an ongoing task – we don’t let people ask the questions.
  • Lamenting is a faith opportunity.
  • Lamenting involves us in the process of covenanting.
  • Can God be addressed in risky ways?
  • Lament is a cry over a relationship in process.
  • Does the absence of lament signal that we really don’t want to know God?
  • Lamentation is more than catharsis – getting things off our chests.
  • Recognition of God’s sovereignty isn’t resignation.
  • Lament is messy business.
  • When the option of lament is removed, we cannot express ourselves to God nor receive the formative character of lamentation.
  • Lament challenges every theology of guaranteed safety.
  • Lamenting involves risk. – Elllington
    1. Losing or turning loose the status quo.
    2. Newness. Should newness fail to materialize, the worshiper faces a death without meaning.
  • Caution: Be careful to insist that one must contend with God.
  • Lament is not an end in itself. – Sorrow leads to comfort and lament leads to praise.
  • There is a clear distinction between lament and grumbling.
    • Lament is truly seeking, asking and knocking.
    • Lament is a passion to ask, rather than rant and rave.
    • Lament moves toward God.
  • Why is it absent?
    1. Influence – we are too successful.
    2. Apathy – we don’t want God’s response.
  • Praise and Worship songs detatch God’s attributes from his acts. – Cornelius Plantinga
  • Theological astigmatism – happy texts or choruses alone render an incomplete view of God.
  • When we lament, we must be specific as to what we are lamenting.
  • Laments never end on the loss but on God. – Bruggemann

Book Review – NT Wright, Justification: God’s Plan and Paul’s Vision

I have just finished reading and have posted a book review for NT (Tom) Wright’s latest book Justification: God’s Plan and Paul’s Vision.  Here is the first paragraph:

Reading a book by NT Wright on Justification and then hearing his critics is like listening to a majestic symphony and then hearing someone complain about the parallel fifths.

For more, see the review.

New Arrangement: All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name

Here is an arrangement that I’ve been working on today:

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It still needs a little work, especially in the realm of dynamics, etc., but I’m happy with a lot of it. (It’s also in F Major which is much more singable than the G Major arrangement found in most hymnals.)

Where Are the Psalms? Conference: Mark Ross

Mark Ross, professor at Erskine Theological Seminary‘s Columbia Campus and dean of the Institute for Reformed Worship, spoke on “What Place Should Psalm-Singing Have in Christian Worship?” Below are a few notes from his lecture.

  • The question of whether we should sing psalms is not simply a practical question but also a theological and ethical question.
  • Must we sing the Psalms? Is it a divine imperative?
    • This isn’t a question of “Should we sing?” or “Should we sing only psalms?”
  • There is a biblical pattern of remembering God’s mighty deeds in song.
  • Songs bookend Samuel – Hannah (1 Samuel 1) and David (2 Samuel 22).
  • Psalm singing, like the Lord’s Supper, should be seen as ordinary and beneficial.
  • Isaac Watts believed that as Old Covenant writings, the Psalms were outdated. (Hence his Psalms Imitated.)
  • Calvin was eager to institute Psalm-singing in Geneva in 1537.
    • As a remedy to the cold prayers of the people.
    • People will learn “to make like prayers and render like praises.”
  • There are two kinds of public prayer:
    1. Words alone
    2. Words with singing
  • Singing in Worship is calling upon God.
  • For Calvin, Psalms aren’t simply instances of prayer but are model prayers.
  • The Psalms reveal forms of acceptable prayer.
  • The Lord’s Prayer says little about thanksgiving, lamentation, etc.
  • The Psalter is an anatomy of all parts of the soul. – Calvin
  • All emotions we can express are present in the Psalms.
  • The Psalms are channels of prayer.
  • The Psalms form a complete topography of human experience.
  • Psalms give us the rule to evaluate all our songs since they are paths of acceptable prayer.
  • The work of Watts exemplifies the best of Reformed hymnody in relation to the Psalms.
  • There should be a dynamic relationship between Psalms and hymns.
  • Abandonment of the Psalter can only bring harm to our prayer and piety.
  • The Psalms must be prayed! Not simply read.
  • We can only understand the New Testament service of song in the light of the Old Testament service of song.
  • Psalms can keep us from the delusions of false doctrine.
  • In times when we do not know what to say, the Psalms give us words.

Page CXVI / Indie-Rock Hymns

This project looks and sounds great (and it’s free). Great hymn arrangements with an indie-rock vibe. Very well done.

Page CXVI / Hymns.