Avoiding the follies of the present by remembering the follies of the past

By Michael A.G. Haykin

Ah, one good reason to read the history of the church is to avoid the follies of the past. With the passage of time, the folly is patent, though at the time when it was committed, it may well have passed for wisdom. One thinks of the defence of slavery by God-fearing men and women in the 18th and 19th centuries and further back, the “learned’ ripostes by Christians to the new science of Copernicus. In the realm of worship, we Baptists can learn a lot from the conflict that ripped apart the London Particular Baptists in the 1690s. So fierce was it, that eventually some of the pastors called a halt to the treatises being written and so attempted to find a pax Baptistica.

I am old enough to remember a wise pastor making the following statement in a public worship setting, and I quote, “There will be no rock music in heaven.” Yet, fifty years after the rock n’roll of the sixties, is it not true that in many of our worship settings, some of the music by which we worship the Lamb could not be envisioned without the rock revolution? Are we to regard this way of combining chords and rhythms as sinful or is it better seen as part and parcel of the creativity that God has packed into the human frame? And is it not true that some of the music that we like in worship or that we don’t like has more to do with personal preference than divine fiat?

____________________ Michael A.G. Haykin is the director of the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies. He also serves as Professor of Church History and Biblical Spirituality at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Dr. Haykin and his wife Alison have two grown children, Victoria and Nigel.

Churches Reintroducing Old Hymns for a New Day

Sojourn Community Church in Louisville, KY is among a group of churches, ministries, and bands which are seeking to reintroduce the rich, theological truths of the ancient hymns to a new generation. This post on the Gospel Coalition blog contains more information about this movement as well as the video of a helpful discussion on why this trend is important.

Posted by Steve Weaver, Research Assistant to the Director of the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies, Dr. Michael A.G. Haykin.

Going to San Francisco, Grace Slick, and finding Somebody to love (Jesus Christ)

Was I forty years too late when I finally got to Haight-Ashbury, San Francisco, when my wife and I went out there to celebrate our thirty-fifth wedding anniversary and attend the annual ETS conference a week or so ago? Well, the providence of God is never too late! Probably glad in some ways not to have gotten there at the height of those tumultuous years of the counter-culture (which is now mainstream!). It was fascinating to do San Francisco—including Haight-Ashbury, though to be honest, it was somewhat grungy. I guess I expected something like current-day Yorkville in Toronto, which I did do in the height of the sixties.

But experiencing Haight-Ashbury reminded me of the heartbeat/aching void of my generation, well summed up by the song popularized by San Francisco psychedelic rocker Grace Slick (though the song was actually written by her brother-in-law Darby Slick):

“When the truth is found to be lies And all the joy within you dies

“Don’t you want somebody to love Don’t you need somebody to love Wouldn’t you love somebody to love You better find somebody to love.”

A good part of the truths that the mainstream culture of the 1960s pushed were indeed lies, sure to dry up all of the wellsprings of joy. But the truths of my generation, the counter-culture, were not a deep enough corrective. Like the culture they were protesting against, they simply did not go deep enough. What an indictment on a generation that was rooted in interiority. But there was the need of a Guide to navigate the depths of the human heart. And hey: in Jesus, Lord and Christ, I found that Guide and that Somebody Grace Slick urged me to find to love--and His love has proven to be the Sweetest of Joys and the Truth!

Robert Plant’s new CD Band of Joy

What versatility and diversity there is on Robert Plant’s new CD, Band of Joy (2010), from rock and folk to country (the latter never my favourite, but in this case, I make an exception. Apologies to certain friends!). The entire collection on the CD is a delight to listen to, especially the final two songs that are gems: “Satan your kingdom must come down” (a bit of a surprise I must confess) and “Even this shall pass away.” Highly recommended.