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He that denies me before men

Despite the serious title, this post is actually intended to provide a little light relief. Regular readers of my personal blog, Extra Thoughts (hello to all two of you), will know that I like gospel music. I came across this video, a story told by Scott Fowler of the group Legacy Five:

Let's take it that Scott is telling neither more nor less than the truth about this incident. (Note, that is directed to those among my more liberal readers here who always cast doubt on the truth of any outrageous story conservatives tell.)

What sort of church would have rules like that?

Note that the rules weren't just, "Hey, people are coming to listen to you sing, so don't take up a lot of time preaching sermons." Prayers that exclude the name of Jesus might be just as long as prayers in Jesus' name. These were absolutely clearly rules intended to lessen the Christian witness and distinctively Christian character of the concert. Which is particularly silly for, you know, a gospel music concert. What would people think they were coming to hear, Michael Buble?

Do any of you know of any churches, or, as Scott's finger-quotes indicated, "churches," that would impose such rules on Christian singers?

Comments (16)

I've seen some churches - never attended them - that it strikes me could conceivably have rules like this. Most of them have signs hanging on their building somewhere that say, "Never put a period where God has placed a comma." (See http://www.ucc.org/god-is-still-speaking/ads/ for good examples of what churches like this find important: it doesn't particularly strike me that proclamation of Christ is one of those things.)

I see your point. Those ads make it clear that their whole mission is just liberal politics of every stripe--something I would usually associate with the Unitarians.

I must say, though: I can't imagine that such a place would invite a southern gospel music group to sing there in the first place.

So maybe I should modify my question a little: Has anyone known any nominally evangelical churches of a sort that would be likely to have invited a Christian singing group like this who would have such rules? What are such "churches" like?

I know of a Baptist Church that says to musical groups that perform in their facility, words to the effect, "You are here to perform a sacred concert. You may not preach, or speak a word of edification, or offer testimony unless this has been expressly approved by the Elders. An Elder of the congregation will offer prayer at the beginning and end of the concert."

That's interesting, Thomas, and frankly it does seem a little control-freakish, but I suppose part of the issue may be that they aren't sure the group is sufficiently doctrinally sound to trust whatever preaching or word of edification they might offer. Please notice, however, that this church expressly told Scott that he must agree not to pray in Jesus' name! That hardly sounds like a super-careful orthodox church wanting to make sure nothing unorthodox is preached. Very much to the contrary.

I've known a number of musically-inclined people who were always frustrated with constraints placed on them by church leaders. They seemed to think that they were God's Primary Gift, stifled by leaders who just didn't appreciate them. They needed to be free to do their thing. It was enough to form a pattern to me.

I don't know these guys, have never heard of them. But the whole attitude of "these guys tried to limit us! Can you believe it??!!" fits the pattern.

No, sorry, Continental Op, I can't agree. It was the _nature_ of the limitations that was outrageous. Scott himself acknowledges that the ban on "personal testimonies" is the least bad of the new policies. There might have been directions one could go with that that would have been more innocent, albeit somewhat (IMO) control-freakish. It could have been, "We've had some trouble with some groups who have preached doctrine that we considered unsound, and we want to prevent that." It could have been, "We've had some problems with personal testimonies that got so long that they blocked out the music, and we want the focus on the music."

But #2 and #3 make it absolutely clear what the emphasis is here. No reading Scripture at all? And, as I pointed out above, the ban on praying in Jesus' name couldn't have had to do with length, because it isn't a length issue. I suppose if they had some more left-leaning CCM artist he could "pray" about racism for ten minutes straight while still obeying the new policy, so long as he didn't mention Jesus' name!

That's pretty serious stuff. Hence the title of my post. Blocking or banning the name of Jesus at a church? No good.

I went and looked at some of Legacy Five's song lyrics. They mention Jesus plenty.

I'll assume that this church just wants the singers to shut up and sing, and that they already have a preacher or two in house.

They didn't tell them they couldn't mention Jesus in their songs but only in prayer.

Are you okay with that? Telling singers they can pray but can't mention the name of Jesus in prayer?

No, they weren't just telling them to shut up and sing. This is particularly evident in the "no praying in Jesus' name" rule, which does _not_ involve telling them they can't take time to do something other than singing, but only that they can't pray in Jesus' name. I've addressed this what? Three times, now?

Lord have mercy, I do get weary with repeating myself. Something about blog commentators. You address something, and then they just blithely pretend you haven't even addressed it.

I'd say I'm just as surprised as Mr. Scott there.

To me, the rules are too specific. It's like that church was openly attempting to filter
exactly what was presented to it's people. Like somehow, the testimony of this group,
the reading of their prefered passages or even their own prayers might throw everything out
of whack.

I honestly can't think of a church that would openly have such rules like this. I can understand
limitations for time or even "We have a set way of doing prayer, please leave it to us." but nothing
on the level of "Don't you dare tell us what God has done for you. Shut it and sing." which is
the vibe I get from these rules.

Y'all should come over to a Catholic church, you won't have any problem like that. Essentially ALL the prayers are in Jesus's name. Of course, you'll have lots of OTHER problems adjusting, like the fact that Catholics can't sing worth a plug nickel (my wife excepted, and thank God the kids take after her).

That's a sad thing, isn't it? Anglicans also can't sing. They need an infusion of Baptist blood. (I play subversive organ preludes including things like "Rock of Ages" and "There is a Fountain.")

"Rock of Ages" an Anglican hymn written by Toplady an Anglican cleric.
"There is a Fountain" an Anglican hymn written by Cowper an Anglican layman.
No infusion of Baptist blood noted here.

I wasn't entirely clear: there are thousands of pieces of good Catholic music, and many good hymns. (Ave Verum, Panis Angelicus, Frank's Ave Maria, anything you named of Palestrina). And there are some pretty darn good Catholic choirs around too. I meant the people in the pew: by and large, ounce for ounce you need a lot of Catholics to amount to just a few good Baptists.

But Thomas, the Anglicans don't often sing them. Especially not "There is a Fountain."

Lydia said:

the Anglicans don't often sing them

Point well taken. I am glad that Baptists have adopted and sing good Anglican hymns. I am always glad to hear that someone is calling Anglicans back to her historic roots.
Tony said:
there are thousands of pieces of good Catholic music

Many of the old Catholic hymns are almost never sung in Roman Catholic Churches. By way of example the hymns Zion to thy Saviour singing, by St. Thomas Aquinas, or O Trinity most blessed light, by St. Ambrose of Milan or O sacred Head now wounded by St. Bernard of Clairvaux, are more likely in Lutheran or Presbyterian Churches then in Roman Catholic parishes.

The video is definitely hilarious but same time,
its sad for the church issue. Thanks for sharing this video.

Audrey from mini frigo Coca Cola 

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