“[W]e made the strategic decision to stop singing hymns in our seeker services.” Rick Warren, Purpose Driven Church, p. 285
It is interesting (and sad) to watch the growing trend among those who promote contemplative and/or emerging and those in the seeker-friendly movement to teach their followers that hymns are outdated, irrelevant, and un-useful.
In light of the fact that many of the traditional hymns were birthed out of suffering and hardship, the rejection of them is even more difficult to embrace. However, in the atmosphere of today’s “Christianity,” it is not more difficult to understand. Much of this modern-day Christianity has made a direct bee line for Catholicism, ignoring the very fact that our past brothers and sisters were martyred in their attempts to leave the institution and its rituals behind. We live today in such a spiritual environment where so many are able to run back to the very thing that others died to leave; thus it is not hard to understand why so many are rejecting the hymns of those who suffered for their defense of the faith.
In his first book, Purpose Driven Church, Warren devotes several pages to convincing readers that hymns are outdated and need to go. David Jeremiah, in his book Life Wide Open, said: “Unfortunately, we often encourage comfort zones in the church. He then quotes contemplative Calvin Miller, who said: “I was struck one day by all the hymns that center on faith as a protective refuge.” Examples he gave included “A Mighty Fortress is Our God,” “Rock of Ages,” and “Haven of Rest.” Jeremiah said that such songs were “comfort music for weak-kneed saints” (pp. 164-165). Is it possible that many of today’s Christian leaders have become so alienated from the very idea of suffering for the defense of the faith, that the notion of singing songs “that center on faith as a protective refuge” is ridiculous to them? And could it be that Christians today are being trained, not to stand for truth, but rather to bend with and mimic our culture?
A Mighty Fortress
A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great, and, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.
Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth, His Name, from age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.
And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us:
The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.
That word above all earthly powers, no thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours through Him Who with us sideth:
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.