Can you be charismatic without modern worship music?

These days when you think about the charismatic movement, you often think about worship style. And to be honest, in most “charismatic” churches that I’ve been to recently there is no sign of the gifts being active. Granted, I don’t go to a lot of in-your-face charismatic churches, but this is my impression of most [on-paper] charismatic churches like the Vineyard, Calvary Chapel and Sovereign Grace.

What many high-church or Baptist folks mean when they decry charismatic churches is simply ‘happy-clappy’ worship. So from within the charismatic churches and without, the identification of a ‘charismatic’ church is via its style of worship music. But this seems utterly wrong. For one thing, this style of soft-rock worship music now dominates almost every church, from Missouri Synod Lutherans to Southern Baptist mega-churches to Calvary Chapel and the Vineyard.

The 1st century Church wasn’t worshiping with guitars and drum-kits, and yet they had regular outpourings of the Holy Spirit. You can trace the presence of the gifts throughout Church history on and off through the ages. None of these time periods used our style of worship music either (obviously). So there is no causal relationship between the charismatic gifts and singing Hillsong music in church.

I don’t know of any churches today that have Gregorian chant and speaking in tongues. Generally, the more outward manifestations of the Holy Spirit that you see, the wilder the music is. But I can’t see any objective Biblical reason for this to be necessary.


James Jordan does the usual: speaks his mind and lets the chips fall where they may. This essay is dated, but is now relevant again due to the murder of Tiller in Kansas. Read the whole thing here. An excerpt:

As a result of all this, the older, responsible anti-abortion Christian voices have been overwhelmed, and their organizations left in the dust. You cannot hear a string quartet if a rock band is playing in the same room. This is probably for the good, if it forces us to channel our efforts into rebuilding the Church. The fact is that it takes an act of faith to believe that the baby in the womb is a human being, because you cannot see it. In our time, only Christianized cultures have regarded abortion as murder and criminalized it. Thus, apart from a revival of genuine Biblical Christianity, the present situation will not significantly change. We should do what we can, bearing witness and helping unwed mothers, but more and more it will be necessary for Christians to separate publicly from the heresies of the Prolifist religion and its false humanist god.

NEB and RSV Bibles

I was looking at my copies of the New English Bible (NEB) and the Revised Standard Version (RSV) yesterday. [As an aside, the RSV is the parent of the ESV]. I noticed similar cross patterns on both covers, pictured shakily below.

BiblesBoth were published in the late 60’s / early 70’s – the versions I have that is. And as I looked at the credits, I noticed a reason for the similarity – both jackets were designed by Muriel Nasser. I looked high and low for information about her, and I can find a lot of books she designed in the last century, but nothing much about her personally.

Jordan on Salvation

James Jordan writes about Romans and N.T. Wright:

For me at least, the so-called “Old Testament” is very clear about individual salvation by faith alone. That’s exactly what the first of the Ten Words commands: “I did it all; you didn’t do anything; I’m your God, now put all your trust in Me and in no other gods.”

But historically, the Church has tended to despise the so-called OT, evening inventing the phrase “Old Testament” to describe it, as if the seamless Word of God is really two separate books (a notion not found in the Bible itself). Hence, it is as if the so-called NT has to start all over again.

And, since the Reformation, Paul has to start all over again. Paul has to say again what has already been said countless times in the Torah, in the Psalms, and in the Prophets. God through Ezekiel, for instance, repeatedly tells us that each person stands as an individual before the judgment seat.

I just think that this is a goofy assumption to bring to the Pauline writings and to the “NT” in general. The Bible is not a Tibetan prayer-wheel that just goes round and round over the same ideas in book after book. (It’s preachers who do that, preaching their pet ideas over and over regardless of what the text in front of them says.)

My point is that I’m not bothered if someone says that Romans is not about how to get saved. Frankly, I don’t expect Romans to be about that. If that’s what Paul wanted to say, all he needed to do was point to Exodus 20. Similarly, if “works of the law” means “earning salvation,” once again all Paul needed to do was point to Exodus 20.

I don’t need N.T. Wright to tell me this. I learned it 25 years ago in seminary. I’ve operated with it for all my ministry.

Of course, none of the above actually deals with the question of what Paul is doing in Romans. Maybe he is largely concerned with individual salvation in Romans. Maybe he’s not. My own opinion is that the book is largely about the resurrection of the human race, which was ripped in half (and hence slain) in Genesis 17, and which is reunited in the resurrection of Jesus. But there’s more in the book than that, obviously.