The Worship Quote of the Week for (04/26/2005):

Sola Cultura?
Dr. David Peterson’s April 14th chapel message, “The Worship That Pleases God,” can be heard at The audio file is about 27 minutes long—highly recommended.

How should Christians view the forces of modern culture as they try to shape our priorities in the church of Christ? Today’s WORSHIP QUOTE is a brief excerpt from a wonderful and troubling book by Os Guinness, Prophetic Untimeliness: A Challenge to the Idol of Relevance. Reader, beware!

Is the church ours to reinvent, or is it God’s? Does the head of the church have anything to say, or do the consultants have the last word? Shouldn’t “doing church” follow from what we believe is the church’s being? . . .

For all the lofty and recent statements about biblical authority, a great part of the evangelical community has made a historic shift. It has transferred authority from Sola Scriptura (by Scripture alone) to Sola Cultura (by culture alone).

Is the culture decisive and the audience sovereign for the Christian church? Not for one moment. God forbid. The client and the consumer may be king for free-market enterprise. Serving the shareholder may be obligatory for the directors of corporations. But the church of Christ is not under the sway of market totalitarianism—even in America where capitalism is king, pope, and emperor, all rolled into one. From the prophets’ “This is the word of the Lord” to the reformer’s “Here I stand; so help me, God, I can do no other,” the message, not the audience, is always sovereign, and the culture is always potentially the world set over against Christ and his kingdom.

—Os Guinness, from Prophetic Untimeliness: A Challenge to the Idol of Relevance. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2003, pp. 65-66. ISBN 0-8010-1260-0.

Have a great week,

Chip Stam
Director, Institute for Christian Worship
School of Church Music and Worship
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Louisville, Kentucky

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