One such shock occurred when observing an event of Christian people interacting with praise songs. The substance of these songs demonstrated the poverty of good contemporary hymnody. Nevertheless, the participants obviously drew “spiritual” experiences from these songs. As I watched, my concern grew at the intellectual dissonence between the level of "spiritual" experience and the truth content of the lyrics.
This event reminded me of a conversation I once had with a colleague about music at Christian camps. He objected to the music at camp worship which departed from the music in our corporate worship. He suggested at the time that it created a separation in the minds of the kids between church spirituality and camp spirituality. At the time, I understood his concern but wondered if it was much ado about nothing. My recent experiences have caused me to appreciate the importance of the emergence of separate kinds of Christian spirituality.
Our society views spirituality as a subjective experience rather than an objective experience. To the world, the spirituality of transcendental meditation does not differ from the spirituality of a cathedral. Spirituality is a personal experience that has nothing objectively true about it. This perspective has invaded the church and made many careless about the truth behind an experience, but merely evaluates the experience itself.
Every experience involves an element of subjectivity. After all, experience affects the individual. Some experiences mean more to us than others. That does not diminish the reality of a lesser experience. Even a mere subjective experience is real to the individual. The confusion arises when culture defines spirituality solely as subjective experiences, experiences based solely on one’s subjective preferences rather than an objective reality. Christian spirituality rests on the truth of God’s word. To attempt spirituality in a predominantly subjective form endangers our fidelity to the truth. Wisdom dictates that Christians pursue spiritual experiences based on truth rather than our own preferences or emotions.
How we worship substantially influences our spirituality. Worship expresses our view of God and His relation to us. Spirituality is how we experience that relationship. Thus, how we view God defines how we worship Him and how we worship God affects how we experience our relationship with God. We must be very careful how we worship and how we understand spirituality.
(Continued next week)