In the last post, we set forth the main points of the argument for diversity in worship (ADW). In this post, and perhaps in one or two more, I will point out what I think are significant weak points in ADW.
I note, first, that the two stated benefits of ADW are, in practice, inversely proportional to one another. By way of review, advocates of diverse worship tell us that it will do two things for us: it (1) allows us to worship in an authentic way, and (2) gives us opportunity to defer to other believers. But these two benefits will not exist for the same person at the same time. Think about this carefully: to the degree that I am worshiping “in my language,” I have no need to defer to others in the congregation. To the degree that I am deferring, I am not worshiping “in my language.”
Now, please understand that I don’t think that this observation is some sort of defeater for ADW; I note this simply because the advocates of ADW have created a “heads I win, tails you lose” scenario for their position. If we approve of a song, they can tell us that it’s great that we can worship in a idiom native to us. If we are uncomfortable with another song, they tell us that it’s great that we have opportunity to submit to other believers.
To clarify, I don’t believe that anyone intended to give ADW this sort of failproof justification; I’m not suggesting any sort of conspiracy here. I am, however, claiming that the no-lose situation created by ADW is a bit artificial and circular.
We could create a parallel argument for using non-diverse worship (and this can work for non-diverse progressive worship just as well as it would for non-diverse conservative worship): if you like what we’re doing, you’re worshiping in your native idiom, and if you don’t, it gives you an opportunity to learn to submit to spiritual authority in your life. For what it’s worth, I wouldn’t expect this sort of argument to gain much traction, only because Americans have an nearly inbred antagonism to hierarchical authority. The point is, authentic worship and submission to spiritual authorities are both counted as goods in Scripture; the fact that non-diverse worship can appeal to either (depending on a person’s response) doesn’t make non-diverse worship right.
Thus, the benefits that are said to accrue from diverse worship, I contend, are not sufficient to justify the practice. Again, I am not saying at this point that diversity in worship is wrong; in this post, I am only saying that the admirable goals of ADW do not justify it. In my next post, I will begin to address Kauflin’s arguments in support of diverse worship, which are, in my opinion, more compelling.