Carl Trueman is a shrewd cultural observer who has a knack for writing insightful, witty, and dare I say humorous articles each month at Reformation 21. Well…he’s done it again. In last month’s gem, Trueman addresses the triviality found in too many church services.
A church service involving clowns or fancy dress or skits or stand-up comedy does not reflect the seriousness of the gospel; and those who take the gospel seriously should know better. Frankly, it is more appropriate to liberal theology which does not take the gospel, or the God of the gospel, seriously. Serious things demand serious idioms. I heard recently of a church service involving dressing up in costume and music taken from a Tom Cruise movie. Now, if I go for my annual prostate examination, and the doctor comes into the consulting room dressed as Coco the Clown, with `Take my breath away’ from Top Gun playing in the background, guess what? I’m going to take the doctor out with a left hook, flee the surgery, and probably file a complaint with the appropriate professional body. This is serious business; and if he looks like a twit and acts like a twit, then I can only conclude that he is a twit.
Of course, Trueman is not characterizing all of evangelicalism in this manner. However, there is plenty of ridiculousness in church worship services to go around. I’ve seen people run in circles on stage while carrying a box with an egg of future opportunity. I’ve seen “prophetic” chaos take over an evening gathering. And we’ve all seen the slap happy healings on television. At the end of the day, I think what Trueman says is appropriate. “You can tell a lot about someone’s theology from what they do in church.”