Biblical-looking men with their arms raised to heaven around a big gold flashy light

Editor's note: In March of 2017, researchers from the British Museum excavating an archeological site in Greece made one of the great discoveries of the twenty-first century. Sealed in a clay jar was a copy of the lost third epistle from the Apostle Paul to the Corinthians. The letter addresses Paul's growing concern about the Church of Corinth's use of Christian Rock praise bands in worship services. What follows is a verbatim translation from the original Greek.

Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes.

To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be his holy people, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ—their Lord and ours: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought. My brothers and sisters, I have been informed that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: one of you says, “I prefer a traditional church service with hymns and a choir”; another, “I prefer a more modern church service with a live rock band playing the latest Christian Rock hits.”

In a previous letter to you, I urged peace and concord among you and the acceptance of others.* After much thought and prayer, however, I have determined that I cannot do so in this instance. Christian Rock is terrible. Praise bands are dumb. Such it is written and such it shall be.

What is the matter with you praise band people? Has the Lord not given you a millennium of the greatest music ever created? Beethoven's “Missa Solemnis.” The power of “Faith of our Fathers” (or “Onward Christian Soldiers” for that matter, although it is a tad militaristic). The perfect simplicity of the hymns of Luther. The understated glory of “Silent Night.” Can you conceive of the beauty of small church mourning a lost member by singing “For All the Saints?”

Apparently not. Instead you saddle me with a turd like Tenth Avenue North's “I Have This Hope.” Oh yes, I watched that appalling video on Youtube. As advertised, it was inspiring – inspiring to go live in a monastery without internet access.

Has it occurred to you that the title of Tenth Avenue’s “I Need You, I Want You, I Love You” is Elvis’ “I Want You, I Need You, I Love You” with the words rearranged? Elvis is undoubtedly sinful, and honestly I was sort of hoping it was a parody. No such luck, instead I got “your joy is better than wine.” I appreciate that this band thinks enough of everlasting salvation that they feel the need to point out that God is better than booze. Thanks for that. I am pleased that this critical theological issue has now been put to bed.

I’ll admit that when Rich Mullins first tore up the charts with “Our God is an Awesome God” I thought it was just something innocuous for the kids to sing at church camp. I had no idea it would become a multi-million dollar assembly line of hesitant verses asking whether tears were in vain, followed by rousing affirming choruses.  It's all the same frickin' song people!!

God wants worship services, not lame rock concerts. He’s a fan of organs, not V-Drums. Do you think God doesn’t notice that the ecstatic signing along on Sunday morning has a distinct sexual element? You guys are a gallon of wine away from a full-on Bacchanalia or some other weird fertility ritual. (although fortunately we have established that joy is in fact better than wine).

As I have stated previously, if you speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, you are only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.** I stand by this statement, and note that both gongs and cymbals are vastly preferable to Christian Rock. Seriously, I would rather have some dude wailing on a gong outside of my house from sunup to sundown than listen to Hillsong's “Days of Elijah” one more time.

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, let all of you who like praise bands repent. Let those of you who oppose the praise bands stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

Did I mention that “Days of Elijah” is truly terrible?

Sincerely, the Apostle Paul

* 1 Corinthians 1

** 1 Corinthians 13.



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