A Florida Presbyterian Church in America pastor recently critiqued contemporary styles of worship in favor of hymns and psalms.
On Wednesday, David McWilliams, senior minister of Covenant Presbyterian Church in Lakeland, delivered a message titled “Reformed Doxology: Worship According to Scripture” at a Gospel Reformation Network conference.
“We long for a Holy Spirit-induced relish for the truth, a delight in the triune God, a heart moved promptly and sincerely by God’s glory in our private and public worship,” the minister said.
McWilliams, who is also a former professor of theology, stressed that one of “the main principles in worship” was that it must be conducted with “reverence and awe”, which can be hampered by “casual attitudes, carnality, certain kinds of music, and even vocabulary.”
“For example, who can think that a service peppered with salsa rhythms will lead the congregation to worship God in reverence and awe?” he asked. “Or rock music. Will sentimental tunes or music that remind one of night clubs lead us to reverence and awe?”
McWilliams went on to contend that “certain forms of music, attitudes, and actions are immediately excluded from worship by the one principle that we are to worship our God in reverence and awe.”
He also listed multiple reasons as to why it was wrong for worship approaches to accommodate cultural trends, arguing that it “misrepresents God,” “devalues church culture,” “harms discipleship,” and “does not mature believers.”
Regarding true worship, the pastor emphasized that it should be like “a different universe” without the need for “smokescreens,” “movie clips,” or “changing the color of lights,” saying “style is not neutral.”
McWilliams continued this speech by making a case for hymns and the Psalter, which he described as the “the greatest tool for discipleship next to the Bible.”
“Hymnody is part of the catechesis of the church,” he asserted.
“Setting aside the Psalters and hymnbooks is just not wise. It does not lead to maturity. It also cuts God’s people adrift from church history,” McWilliams noted. “Grounding worship in culture, cultural trends, cannot give people a sense of the long and steady growth that is behind the worship of God.”
While a contemporary worship song “may say ‘God is awesome’, the Psalter and traditional hymns tells us ‘why God is awesome’,” he added.
McWilliams said that he fears young people who are “fed on a steady diet” of contemporary Christian worship and music are “not rooted in scriptural worship” and are unprepared for dealing with hard times.
“What is often the drivel they have, song in worship in times of great need will let them down and let them down hard,” he added.
McWilliams’s speech was delivered at the GRN conference held at Briarwood Presbyterian Church of Birmingham, Alabama, from May 5-6.
Photo courtesy: ©Unsplash/Shaun Frankland
Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer. He is also the co-hosts of the For Your Soul podcast, which seeks to equip the church with biblical truth and sound doctrine. Visit his blog Blessed Are The Forgiven.