The personality of Jesus as described in the Bible demands reverence. In Scripture you won’t find a verse that goes like: “And God laughed and said, ‘You need to spice up your spiritual life my child.'” Christ has this unbearable sternness to him that only makes it appropriate to worship Him accordingly, that is, with reverence. P&W, on the other hand, doesn’t seek this reverence to Christ. There is something about this music that allows people, without any shame, to go on Snap Chat and take pictures of the singers while the Blessed Sacrament is exposed. Or what about social acceptance to talk with others during this “worship” event? It just gets worse, especially when the “worship leader” decides to joke in between versus while strumming the guitar. All this I have experienced, unfortunately, first hand. The nature of truly glorifying God demands reverence. When something causes the environment to allow things such as pictures, talking, jokes, in the middle of so-called “prayer”, then there is something wrong. It is misleading, because people, especially the youth, think they are getting spiritually fed. Instead all they have done is mistaken their ignited emotion to be love for God.
Cleary, P&W does not seek reverence towards God, but it does seek to entertain people. Similarly the purpose of a concert is to entertain a group of people hoping for an emotional and exciting reaction by them. I agree that a band can probably determine the success of their concert based on their fans’ reaction, but it does not follow that a “praise team” can determine their fans’ relationship with God just based on an emotional reaction. A priest can’t properly judge a person’s relationship with God because such a thing is intimate and mysterious. So how would some dude with a guitar do it? Let’s be careful going around and deceiving people to think that this type of music is good for the soul. Showing videos of people waving their hands in the air with tears flowing, does not mean there is a spiritual closeness to God at these events. All it means is that music can affect emotions to a point where we get shivers. In fact, scientific studies3 have shown this to be true. Not only can music evoke shivers, but different music, according to Swaminathan (2015), causes different emotions to spur. And, as mentioned earlier, it is NOT by accident that all P&W music uses the type of melody to spur sentimental, feel-good emotions. Take away the melody and what do you have left? Bad poetry without the pleasure.
Not of this World
So let’s not be deceived about what’s going on in our Church. P&W is part of a bigger problem that exists in the Church. Let’s start with the obvious problem of reducing the spirituality of Church to ordinary things, like this type of music. The Church was never meant to be like the world. Paul tells us in Romans “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (12:2). Scripture continues to tell us “Do not love this world or the things in the world. If any one loves the world, love for the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15). God is not of this world, nor is the way we should worship him. On our behalf, the priest prays: “Before the glorious throne, O Lord, of your Majesty, the high and exalted seat of your Magnificence, the awesome chair of your overwhelming Love, the forgiving altar which your command has founded, and the dwelling-place of your Glory,…”4. This is the way God wants us to worship. And that above, is nothing like the world. Compare this with P&W and ask, is P&W of this world? If so, then we should, out of love for God, act accordingly.
3Swaminathan, S., & Schellenberg, E. G. (2015). Current emotion research in music psychology. Emotion Review, 7(2), 189-197. doi:10.1177/1754073914558282
4The Rite of the Divine Mysteries of the Chaldean Church of the East