Thursday, August 14, 2008

Is this worship?

Some of my more conservative blogger friends are all up in arms over this.

This is a video of a song at the end of a summer youth camp program called Summer Ramp ’07.

The song leader, Rick Pino, has the kids spin their socks and jump around while singing “You spin me right round, Jesus, right around” over and over.

The problem some have with this is twofold:

They say this is not worship. The song is vapid, meaningless emotional hype.

Furthermore, the song was actually made popular in the 80’s (without the name of Jesus) by transvestite performer Pete Burns.

The argument continues that, while we have freedom in Christ from sin, we are not free to worship God any ol’ way we want (can I get an “amen” from Uzzah and King Saul?). Also, the blood of Christ allows us to enter boldly into the presence of God (something the OT saints knew nothing of), but not flippantly.

Now, those who know me and have heard me preach know that I’m very sensitive to preserving the truth of the holiness of God. I think one of the main problems with the church today – and this is true of our culture at large – is that we have lost our grip on the meaning of the fear of the Lord. I’m especially concerned about teaching this next generation to frivolously “rush in where angels fear to tread”.

That having been said, I’m also concerned about judging another person’s worship. Yes the song is vapid, maybe even a little silly, but we don’t know what kind of teaching has been going on at this camp (I don’t know anything about Rick Pino beyond this video). It may be that they have been immersed in deep, Biblical, theological teaching all week long and this is just an innocuous “let loose” time.

Are all the kids in that crowd truly worshipping? I doubt it, but I would think many are. Look in on a liturgical church this Sunday and listen to the organ playing classical hymns. Are all the people in that congregation truly worshipping? Again, I doubt it, but I would think many are. The point is, we don’t know and it’s dangerous to speculate. This is ultimately between them and God.

What about the pagan roots behind the song? I have to admit, this does bother me somewhat. Can we worship God with a song that was originally used to appeal to the flesh? And was recorded by the perverted? Maybe . . .

Do we celebrate Christmas? Doesn’t Christmas have pagan roots? Yet we justify ourselves by saying that we can turn the celebration over to God, let Him redeem that time, and use it for His glory. In fact, that’s what we do with ourselves. Many of us have pagan origins, but we’ve been redeemed and now can be used by God.
Can’t the same be done with a song?

Your thoughts . . .


Kristin said...

I'm going to start at the end of this and work backwards.

I don't think that a song that was originally recorded by the perverted should really figure in. That man's sin is no greater or lesser than Steven Curtis Chapman's sin, is it? The difference is in the acceptance of forgiveness. I think it would be a redemptive gesture to use a catchy song and rework the lyrics for good.

I can remember singing/chanting with Steve Fitzhugh at Super Weekend..."McDonalds, McDonalds, Long John Silver's and a Pizza Hut". It was usually early on and getting us reenergized and engaged in either the worship or the speaking. That isn't a bad thing.

"You spin me right round, Jesus"...well, sounds like repentance to me? And the other songs, when viewed in context of possible Christian themes, as those kids were bound to be in the mindset of doing at a Youth Camp, have new meaning and use. For kids on the fringe or new to Christianity, they'd finally have a song they knew lyrics to! Wouldn't that be nice to reaffirm to them that their new Christian beliefs are meant to change their world view and to show that they will see things differently now?

I agree with your point that it is an infinitely fine line to begin to decide what is and is not worship. Speaking in tongues becomes suspect as it sounds like "vapid, meaningless emotional hype" to some as well.

I agree that the fear of God must be taught, but along side it, the unbridled joy of being God's beloved child.

While I can understand the concern of insincerity in worship, I don't believe that requires being "up in arms". Voice the signs of true worship and let the hearer determine for his or her own heart if it is worship or meaningless noise. After all, if we are to do all for the glory of God, couldn't worship be defined in ways other than song?

Pastor Kip said...

Good points, Kristin. I like the part about speaking in tongues - I think that's a good application.

I also remember being at Bible camp years ago and we sang "I've Got a Never-ending Love for You" (you may remember that).

We sang that in church for years afterwards and I just always thought it was a bona-fide praise song. Come to find out - it was originally a country western tune! No doubt written by a beer-swilling, tobacco-spitting, womanizing cowboy!

Point is, I always sang that song with the idea of praise and worship - that's what was in my heart. And I believed God accepted it.

Chuck said...

Kip very good. I agree with your thought path here. Now that might scare you too. :) Maybe I should read it again. :)

Chris said...

Admittedly, I didn't watch the whole video, but my initial thought was this: while it is NOT worship, it IS good, clean fun.

I have heard several sanctified rock tunes. The thought never occurred to me that any of them were intended to be worship songs. I would never follow "God of Wonders" with "Sweet Home up in Heaven" (Sweet Home, Alabama). But, I would have no problem opening a set with that song to catch people's attention and get them smiling.

The Bible is full of stories where God took the worldly, the broken, the sinful... changed them... and used them for his glory. Why can't the same be done with music lyrics?

I think the crux is how & when a song is being used. As long as you don't spin me right 'round on the heels of Just As I Am, all will be well with my soul.

Pastor Kip said...

You're agreeing with me? Maybe I should rewrite it! :)

Great take on this. What's wrong with good, clean fun? I agree that it's all in how and when the song is being used.

BTW, quote of the day:
"As long as you don't spin me right 'round on the heels of Just As I Am, all will be well with my soul."

Haha! Well said, Chris!