Before I start, I encourage you to read a second post by Dave Mallinak along the same lines as the first he had written on his blog, the first was "Gone Contemporary" and the second, "Gothpel Style."
Like any counterfeit, Bakss book, Worship Wars, has truth in it. As a subtitle for chapter one, for instance, he asks, "Did you know you were made for worship?" That's true. Then after testifying that he is a worshiper, he writes:
The issue is not whether we know how to worship but rather it is about Who we worship.In his introduction, Bakss said he just wanted to be scriptural, because he isn't any kind of expert, but this statement is divorced from scripture. The issue is not just Who we worship. Cain worshiped the right God in Genesis 4. He brought fruits and vegetables. Most often false worship starts with the error on the "how," which leads to the wrong "who." God doesn't accept the wrong "how," hence the death of Nadab and Abihu. Very often the most important question is whether the worship is holy and acceptable unto God.
Bakss says that because everyone has been made to worship, "there's an internal homing device inside of us that perpetually longs for our Maker." Romans 3:11 says "no man seeketh after God." Whatever homing device man started with, made in God's image, died because of sin. Bakss says,
We have an internal Godward magnet pulling our being toward Him.I don't believe that. It's just the opposite. Being made in the image of God doesn't assume anywhere in scripture that after Adam's fall, man by nature wants to worship God. The best Bakss does to prove that is to tell a story of a Roman Catholic woman who saw Jesus in a piece of toast, followed by thousands who also came to worship before the toast. Romans 1 says that men know God, but they glorify Him not as God. Because of general revelation men know God, but they by nature rebel against that knowledge. It makes sense that a faulty view of the nature of man lies at the root of Bakss's false worship.
Bakss then tells another illustration, which he introduces with this statement:
Sadly, for some people the only type of church worship they have experienced is similar to the humorous story of a young boy's first time in church.The little boy couldn't understand dressing up, being quiet, kneeling, and bowing at a pew in an old church building, maybe it was Roman Catholic, the kneeling the only clue. The implication by Bakss was that these circumstances -- dressing up, being quiet, kneeling, and bowing -- are what turn people away from true worship. He follows the story:
The amount of time we spend focusing on worship music styles is a strong indicator that many have little understanding of the heart of worship. If we get so focused on how we worship, it's easy to forget why we worship or even, at times, Who we are worshiping.Huh? There's almost nothing to connect that conclusion from that short illustration. The first sentence is almost impossible to decipher. Who is "we"? Is "we," "many" that have little understanding of the heart of worship? His own story focuses on worship style.
True worshipers will focus on both "how" and "Who," and perhaps better put, "what" and "Who." Worship must recognize Who God is, but it also must give Him what He wants. The "how" relates to what God wants from worshipers. He doesn't accept something that He doesn't want, so that's why true worshipers consider style. You can't focus on Who God is without focusing on what He wants, or how He wants to be worshiped.
Bakss says something very important and true, quoting 2 Chronicles 29:30, that is, worship is about God. He says that the worship wars will end with 'better understanding what worship is all about.' Then he explains that the English word, worship, means 'to ascribe worth,' and "we worship the One who is worthy," then quoting Revelation 4:11. He defines worship as "acknowledging that God is worthy of all praise, from all people, for all time," a definition, I believe, that falls short of sufficient.
Worship acknowledges Who God is, and then it gives Him what He wants. If you don't give Him what He wants, it's obvious that you are not acknowledging Him for Who He is. Bakss though continues with his incomplete understanding by saying that "true worship is simply catching sight of the greatness, majesty, and glory of an infinite God." That's less than half right. However, it is a definition that the reader will see buttresses Bakss next point.
Bakss says 'that our worship is small, because our concept of God is small.' It is true that God deserves great praise. That would also say that someone can know what is great. Isn't that style? All the way through, Bakss makes an obvious contradiction. It's the norm for men like him today. Bakss obsesses over style while saying that style either isn't important or doesn't mean anything. The men who think and then teach like Bakss does, all of them, are the most sensitive people that I see to style. Style is almost everything to them. It's definitely not content, which is easy to see by reading Bakss's book. The little boy in his story got turned off by a worship style he experienced, one that Bakss says occurred because of a preoccupation with style.
The focus, writes Bakss, must be on God and he quotes Isaiah 6:3, the verse on the angelic worship Isaiah witnessed with the angels chanting, "Holy, holy, holy." From that Bakss says, "Worship is declaring, with our lips and our lives, that God is more important to us than anything else." That's not what the angels were declaring. They declared that God was holy, not that He was important.
To that point, Bakss writes:
This is why, when we think of worship wars, we must ask ourselves, "Who really wins? The answer is, "The devil."It doesn't connect with what he's been saying. It doesn't follow. I don't see that as the answer either. I say, "If we don't war, the devil wins."
As if to explain that point, Bakss then says:
As I said, we are all worshippers. In fact, some of the greatest forms of worship are found outside the walls of the church and have no reference to the God of all creation.No. The greatest forms of worship are not found outside of the church. No worship of God is outside the true church. No Christian should look to the world to learn about worship. Scripture is replete with examples of men, who moved to false worship, because they looked at the world for worship. Think at least Jeroboam and Solomon. However, he defends this by providing an anecdote. He says that "all you have to do is drop in on a rock concert or go to a sporting event at a nearby stadium to see amazing worship."
Bakss's point is that kids at rock concerts and athletic contests are really putting their heart into what they're doing, valuing these events highly, as seen in their passion and enthusiasm. As much as anything, they're not worshiping anything or anyone but themselves. These are entertainers and they're being entertained. The entertainment makes them feel good. It's something akin to the passion that a dog shows when someone puts out its bowl of dog food.
Another example was Oprah's interview of Michael Jackson with the most viewers in television history. Jackson's fans, he says, waved "their hands in the air," "some fell on their knees," and "others strained with outstretched hands." He continues, "Seared in my mind is the image of one young girl with a look on her face of total awe."
In each of Bakss's descriptions, he focuses on how people acted or the style that they used. If someone thinks really highly of something or someone, the way they do that is by using these types of methods. He writes, "This clip was an amazing picture of worship." The problem according to Bakss was not the style. That was amazing and wonderful. The problem was the "not-so-great a god," "Michael Jackson."
In addition to singing, Bakss says that people worship with singing, giving, prayer, preaching, etc., all of these focusing on "how." Those are all legitimate he says, but he's going to focus on music and singing. After a few more illustrations, he ends his first chapter with what seems to be his main point:
So, when we truly understand Whom we are praising with our songs and our actions, then it takes the focus of worship off us and our preferences and directs us to be united in our worship of God.His last sentence of the chapter reads:
It is certainly a privilege to be a part of the Rise of Music in our churches.I have no idea what he means by that. The "Rise of Music?" Written in capitals. No idea.
Overall, you can see where Bakss is headed. Warring over musical styles can be stopped by focusing on Who we praise. The people who have preferences, the ones who think that only certain music is acceptable to God, that occurs solely because they're not considering Who they are praising. If they would just start doing that, everyone would be united around God. So, musical preferences are what causes war in music. Perhaps this particular practice, accepting all musical style, as long as the focus is on God, is the "Rise of Music." He does nothing to prove that point, but it's the only explanation that made any sense to me.
Bakss says he's a lawyer and implies in the introduction this as an advantage for him. He says that his goal is to rely on evidence, which for him, he says, is scripture. He does nothing close to making his points from the evidence of scripture. His conclusions are nothing more than his own biased assertions that he sets about to defend. It's possible that a lawyer lets evidence lead him to the truth, but I've noticed this is hardly the case of all lawyers, maybe not even most of them.
The problem for Bakss, like he expressed in his introduction, continues to be the warring. And it isn't even so much the warring. As I said, Bakss is warring with this book. He wars. However, what he calls warring is not allowing him and others like him to have their position tolerated. He gave me no reason to think otherwise. The false worship he propagates deserves war.