from “The Augustana and Lutheran Worship” by Pastor Joel Otto
These various challenges to the Augustana’s view of Lutheran worship are not really about musical style or whether the preacher should be vested or not. They can be boiled down to a difference in the basic definition of worship. The Evangelical “praise and worship” style offers a definition of worship that is man-centered and law-based. Even when Warren speaks about worship being God-centered he only means that our praise is directed toward God. The content of that praise is mostly musings about the individual’s love for Jesus or desire to obey.
Another popular example is “Shout to the Lord.”
My Jesus, My Savior
Lord there is none like you
All of my days, I want to praise
The wonders of your mighty love
My Comfort, My Shelter
Tower of refuge and strength
Let every breath, all that I am
Never cease to worship you
Shout to the Lord, all the earth
Let us sing. Power and majesty, praise to the king.
Mountains bow down and the seas will roar
At the sound of your name
I sing for joy at the work of your hands
Forever I’ll love you, forever I’ll stand
Nothing compares to the promise I have in you.
Theologically, there is nothing unscriptural about this text. In fact, there are allusions to various psalms. It is rather what is missing. There is no description of the “wonder of your mighty love,” no proclamation about what “my Jesus, my Savior” has done to save me. In addition, while the song is sung to Jesus, the focus is on the individual, even to the point of professing to love him forever and stand forever. While a similar vow is made at confirmation, it is always made with the prayer, “And I ask God to help me.” And the fulfillment of the vow is never made without a connection to Word and sacrament. Sacramental emphases are largely missing from “praise and worship” music even among Lutherans who tend to rely on repertoire developed outside of Lutheran circles.