Counter-Cultural Worship Music

The Rt Revd N T (Tom) Wright delivering the Ja...
The Rt Revd N T (Tom) Wright delivering the James Gregory Lecture, “Can a scientist believe in the resurrection”, St Andrews, Thursday 20 December 2007 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have been suggesting that the model of “counter-culture” is (perhaps) the best model for the church in contextualizing faith. The counter-culture is not anti-culture or anti-cultural. Nor is it marginalized culture. Rather the counter-culture critiques the surrounding culture, and challenges that which is wrong in the culture with a different version of the broader culture. As such, the counter-culture is not (or should not be) reactionary or destructive, but affirming in what is good and constructive in what needs change.

In music in the worship setting, there is a lot of strong feelings. Does one affirm the classics of the faith? Does one mirror the music of the surrounding culture? Does one develop one’s own unique music style and format (a separatist sub-culture)? Should the words focus on felt-needs or desires of the singers or should they be doctrinally instructive? Should they be “peppy” and positive or have a bite as they challenge the participant?  I don’t have an answer, but the concept of the the counter-culture (church in dialogue with the broader culture as a counter-culture) is better than culture (church embracing the broader culture) or sub-culture (church as separatist enclave) is a good starting point.

N.T. Wright has a little 2-minute video on Worship Music. To me, it describes this tough balance of a healthy counter-cultural attitude.

Click Here for N.T. Wright on Worship Music

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