Sunday, 19 October 2008

The beauty of holiness and the Bishop of Croydon

Remember that wonderful hymn which urges us to worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness? Well the bishop of Croydon is trying to improve on it by urging us to praise the Lord with rock and pop instead. (Sunday Telegraph News, p16)
At face value this might be seen as a naïve yet benign suggestion. There is nothing wrong surely with using a modern medium to deliver to a wider audience the message in Scripture. However coming from a bishop (even one working in the ultra liberal diocese of Southwark) this surprises me on various counts.
Few if any church songs based on rock/pop or whatever modern music is known to contain proper theological teaching but is based on emotion and sentiment. Remember empty phrases like shine Jesus shine – what on earth (or in heaven) does that mean? [People who have nothing better to do, please note, this is a rhetorical question, there is no prize awarded for any answers received]. Whilst the bishop is hoping to make the bible more widely known he is encouraging a medium known to have contributed to a generation deprived of the same scriptural narratives which trend he rightly wants to reverse.
Bishop Baines complains that we have allowed Scriptures to become banal. Indeed liberals have been busy since the 60’s promoting this banalisation of Scripture by watering it down to irrelevance.
Holy Scripture is about the Word and not words. It is about God in Jesus Christ working in us through the action of the Holy Spirit. What we need for people to reconnect with Jesus is not pop and rock but authentic witness to Christ who speaks through Scripture. Let us stop hanging on to gimmicks and start living out our Christian commitment, in other words let us focus on praising the Lord in the beauty of holiness.
In the same way it is not the clergy who have to be more creative (does he mean that clergy should fiddle with the liturgy and be “creative” as though liturgy is in their gift?) it is the whole people of God who bring others to the fold by their godly living.
Christianity is expressed through witness and not through empty words and gimmicks, clutching at almost anything. In my opinion the process suggested by this bishop only consolidates the irrelevance attributed to Scriptures in this relativistic age.

1 comment:

Andrew Teather said...

He's the Bishop of Croydon, it's what he does.