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Contemporary Worship

Terry L. Johnson
Banner of Truth, 2014.
Peter Barnes

In fewer than 20 pages, Terry Johnson makes 10 criticisms of contemporary worship: its reduced biblical content;
demographic favouritism towards the young; divided communions; its altered purpose (outreach rather than the praises of God); obscured message; contempt of tradition; naïve use of popular culture; aesthetic relativism; pragmatism; and the resultant distraction from the main issues.

On the last point, Johnson writes that “Forms have been defended because forms have been attacked”. He then goes on to say, quite rightly, that “the fundamental issue facing the church is not a matter of form”.

All our experiences are limited, and this makes generalisations hazardous. Clearly, there is enough wrong for there to be concern. As Johnson says, for example, on the altered purpose of meeting together: “The serious business of eternity cannot be conducted in an environment of mirth.” The main problem on this issue seems to be that what each side says about the other contains elements of truth, but perhaps neither side has really grasped what is wrong today. There is more than one way to grieve the Holy Spirit.

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