The Passion FOR the Christ–Yet Another Worship Wars Post


Despite the penetration of the Internet into countless households, most computer-related activities on the ‘Net are dominated by a particular personality type. We know these folks as the Mr. Spocks of the world, their early incarnations being those computer mavens glued to their monitors while playing Rogue into the wee hours of the morning. You know Rogue, the ASCII dungeon game (developed by Christians, BTW), wherein a little “@”-sign adventurer would explore an ever-changing dungeon looking for magic potions while fighting all manner of hideous beast? Fast-forward a couple decades and Rogue lives on in every first-person shooter that ever plunged through a bank of VRAM.

But I digress…

If Marla Swoffer were still blogging, she’d have these folks tagged by their Myers-Briggs type indicator: NT, or Intuitive Thinker. I gave up on the Myers-Briggs a long time ago, but the fact remains that Intuitive Thinkers dominate nearly every grotto carved out by the Silicon Glacier that has blanketed the world since the Homebrew Computer Club fired up their first Altair in the early Seventies. Toss a pack of Myers-Briggs tests into that group and you’d think all the respondents were the same person.

But I digress again…

Whether you adore the Myers-Briggs or think it’s a bunch of New Age Jungian hooey, there’s no ignoring the kind of person described by the NT personality: rational and logical—definitely not a sufferer of fools or “bleeding hearts.” The patron saint of this particular kind of person is the low-key cop of Dragnet, Det. Joe Friday. His trademark phrase: “Just the facts, ma’am.”

NTs still dominate the computer world. They’re the quintessential early adopters. If there’s a tech bleeding edge, they’re perched on it. Not only were they the first bloggers, they developed all the software for the non-NTs to start their own blogs. NTs have a limited set of passions because passion isn’t all that logical. However, if George Lucas were to film a few more Star Wars flicks, the NTs would be first in line with their homemade Darth Vader outfits sporting custom MP3-rigged labored-breathing effects. Or else they’d be out trying to create the world envisioned in the Matrix movies for no other reason than perhaps the Machines were right.

Christians who are adept at the Internet are also largely NTs. Scratch a Christian NT and they’ll bleed systematic theologies, a term for each minutia of doctrine, and enough intellectual apologetics firepower to sink every representative depicted in (Walter) Martin’s Book of Cults.

Because of the combo of Internet and Christianity, Godbloggers of the Intuitive Thinking persuasion dominate the Godblogosphere. Totally. For those few Godbloggers who aren’t NTs, wading into the collective Godblogosphere under NT terms is a little like gathering a few likeminded buddies and knocking on Dan Rooney’s door, wondering if his team is up for a game.

Better have REALLY good dental insurance.

I say all this because the worship wars are heating up again. Chuck Colson (could a former-Nixon-hatchet-man be anything else but an NT?) pitched a hissy over the weepy-eyed Jesus music he encountered recently. By “weepy-eyed Jesus music” I mean, of course, modern praise and worship choruses. Dr. Sam Storms (non-NTs do get PhD’s, believe it or not) leapt into the fray to defend the worship song in question, “Draw Me Close to You,” whose words follow:

Draw me close to you, never let me go.
I lay it all down again, to hear you say that I’m your friend.
You are my desire, no one else will do.
No one else can take your place, to feel the warmth of your embrace.
Help me find the way, bring me back to you.
You’re all I want. You’re all I’ve ever needed.
You’re all I want. Help me know you are near.

Not NT hymnody. There’s a hint of possible hugging and nearness. Too touchy-feely. No smiting at all. For NTs, it’s a bit like that Hymn That Dare Not Speak Its Name, Fanny Crosby’s “In the Garden.” The NT response on Fanny’s classic: “We acknowledge that certain hymns of determinate age are indeed superior to all other forms of sentient music, particularly when they reflect a Supralapsarian viewpoint, but by our considerable whiskers, that hymn has the line ‘He speaks and the sound of His voice is so sweet the birds hush their singing.’ You can’t rationally expect church elders to sing a line like that, now can you?”

And thus we get to yet another facet of the worship wars.

Despite Sam Storms’s attempt to punch through the psychological Maginot Line erected by NT folks who go searching for a hari kari knife the second someone fires up a song like “Draw Me Close to You,” he failed. That should come as no surprise though, because few of us ever stop to think that our opponents might have a good point once in a while. Too often, those of us who say, “Once saved, always saved,” are the same folks who add, “And once wrong, always wrong.”

Van Gogh—Starry NightLet’s draw a parallel in another medium. You find the exact dispute in the art world. Before the worship wars came the Realist vs. Impressionist wars. Neither side in that fray found the common ground that still said “art.” The Realists might have looked at Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” and said, “Well, the night sky depicted in this deranged work bears no resemblance to what we see with our eyes. The artist is taking brutal liberties.” On the other hand, the Impressionists might have considered Millet’s Millet—The Sheep Meadow, Moonlight“The Sheep Meadow, Moonlight” and said, “It’s lacking the passion of the artist to see with the mystical eyes of the soul.”

When we start this debate in the Christian music world, it’s the same tired dichotomy.

Nothing is more difficult than trying to get disparate people to understand the merits of differing viewpoints, especially in the Church. Take your staunchest NT-like Christian and sit him down next to a bawling single mother of six in your average Pentecostal church and the disconnect will be so brutal both parties might explode. Yet in the same way that “Come Ye, Sinners” stirs the heart of Mr. NT, that bawling mom is experiencing the same feeling (oops, bad word) when singing “Draw Me Close to You.”

I hate to say this to the NTs out there, but we can’t put a tricorder on a Christian connecting with the Lord and derive any kind of meaningful data out of the experience. There’s no yardstick capable of measuring passion! And God is not only passionate about His chosen, but a few of His chosen return that same passion.

Sure, we can distill a commentary on the Song of Solomon and we can systematize its theology, but if we miss the passion in it, the unrestrained feelings expressed in that most holy book, then we’ve missed most of the point:

Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth! For your love is better than wine; your anointing oils are fragrant; your name is oil poured out; therefore virgins love you. Draw me after you; let us run. The king has brought me into his chambers. We will exult and rejoice in you; we will extol your love more than wine; rightly do they love you.
—Song of Solomon 1:2-4 ESV

Bears a striking resemblance to “Draw Me Close to You,” doesn’t it? And if you try to analyze that passage under a theological microscope, you’ll miss not only the entire context, but the very passion of the Author.

Let’s remember: One of the many wonders of Christianity is that it embraces both mind and heart.

  • “Set your minds on things above…”—the mind! The rational part of our being that God fashioned to grasp wisdom and knowledge. That same mind God Himself designed!
  • “I have laid up your Word in my heart…”—the heart! The blood and guts passionately human essence of who God shaped us to be. That same heart God Himself designed!

To those who are siding with Colson—and they are legion—I say this: Our love for Christ can’t exist only in our minds. Nor can it be analyzed for logical consistency. “You’re all I want. You’re all I’ve ever needed.” Sometimes there is no greater truth found than what burns in the passionate heart of the child of God. Even the wisest wise man with the strongest mind every forged knows that passion is too wonderful to understand.

These worship wars are complete nonsense, folks. Unless a song is utterly heretical, we need to stop persecuting works we can’t understand because we’re only perceiving their usefulness with either our mind or our heart (but never both). Doesn’t matter if we’re castigating today’s worship song or yesteryear’s hymn. We’ve got to stop.

Call the truce
. But before we do, let’s all consider the merits of the other side first.

And in this week of Christ’s Passion, may our passion for Him encompass both our hearts and our minds.

20 thoughts on “The Passion FOR the Christ–Yet Another Worship Wars Post

  1. Steve Sensenig

    Unless a song is utterly heretical…

    And therein lies part of the problem, from my perspective. In today’s “discussions” (and I do use that term loosely), the term “heretical” has become used simply in the sense of “something that I don’t like, don’t agree with, or in any particular way am not 100% comfortable with.”

    I believe that your statement is absolutely correct. And I believe that you are using the word “heretical” the way it should be used. But I think many would read that, and say, “Absolutely! ‘Draw Me Close’ is heretical.”

    Personally, in the right context, I am able to worship using that song. Other times, I can’t. To me, it’s never the song itself. It’s a question of whether the song in question (whichever song may be queued up by the “worship leader”) actually speaks truth from my heart or not. If it does, I’ll sing it. If it is not something I can sing from my heart at that moment (or perhaps even to sing by faith), then I consider it preferable not to sing, rather than to sing a lie.

    Just my thoughts. Great article, Dan.

    steve 🙂

  2. Ken,

    Because you’re an NT, I’m glad you could read my post and not feel I was being too harsh on folks who are of that persuasion.

    The Meyers-Briggs is interesting, but I no longer put a lot of credit in it. People change over the years and their MB doesn’t always stay the same, so I don’t think it’s all that useful for pigeonholing people, which is what people are doing when they use the MB.

    Still, it’s hard to ignore that there are different kinds of people!

    I always tested as an NF, but I was almost split down the middle on the F/T part, with just a little leaning to the F. I understand both sides pretty well since I have both tendencies in me—catch me today and I’m an NF, but tomorrow an NT. I’m about as far into an N, though, as one can be. I mentioned that people’s MB changes, but the N/S split rarely does, just the other three categories.

    Still, the intellectual folks often dismiss the feeling folks and I think that’s a mistake. It goes the other way, too.

  3. Steve,

    I almost got into that labeling of things “heretical,” but decided the post was too long anyway, so I’m totally on your side in that clarification.

    I know there are many complaints about worship songs that ask to see God, too. Just this morning, I was reading the McCheyne Bible reading for the day and Psalm 17:15 has that exact same idea:

    As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness.

    We have to be careful we don’t exclude biblical equivalents because we don’t like a modern rendering of a concept.

    Our worship team at church dealt a little with this issue this weekend. There’s a lot of pressure on our worship leader to do this music or that, even within the worship team, not just from the folks in the seats. But it’s what pleases God ultimately, since worship is directed to Him. Too often we have people just wanting to sing their favorite tunes, yet it’s not about the individual at all. It’s not about the whole church, either. It’s about God—we forget that too easily.

    We get into battles about whether the song should be directed at God, yet God is pleased when we are reminded of what He has done for us. A great hymn like “And Can It Be” is written in first person and addresses God in the third person. I have no problem with that, but that bugs some people. “Draw Me Close to You” addresses God directly and also makes reference to us in the first person—that’s the trend today. I have no problem with that, either.

    Being a musician myself, I understand that an appreciation for all kinds of music is key. There is no right or wrong in 99.999% of cases. Yesterday in church, we played eight different songs/hymns, including “Amazing Grace” (as is, no arrangement modifications), “Holy, Holy, Holy Lord” (the one with the “Hosanna” choruses), and “Days of Elijah.” Those three could not be any more different, yet God was blessed by all, I’m sure.

    People in the seats responded differently to each one, too, because they are a diverse audience who have different life experiences, some of which revolve around those songs. I love to hear “Amazing Grace” played on bagpipes. I came to the Lord around the time that “Holy, Holy, Holy Lord” was getting popular (it was written in 1966, but took time to percolate through the 70s Church), so that song has great sentimental meaning for me. And “Days of Elijah” is a song I love to play on drums because it allows me to worship God with the talent He’s given me.

    Every person has a story they take into worship. Every person has a church tradition that resonates with them, one they find more meaningful than others. But no matter what we bring, we have to lay that down and ask how God is blessed by our worship. That’s the only thing that matters in the end.

  4. Gaddabout


    I don’t know how you bridge the gap between the two groups. The people who criticize those type of songs view worship in song as primarily an extension of the pulpit: It is a teaching didactic. There’s a big disconnect right there.

  5. Iris Godfrey

    Ahhh — worship. That elusive subject on which everyone has an opinion. So here is mine. Actually, yours is nice to hear. Thank you for its thoughtful inclusive nature. I was raised on hymns, but find the “chorus” expression helpful. Whatever….

    The point of worship is not the style — but the heart. If there is no bowing, no adoration, no purposeful prostration of the self, then there is no worship — regardless of “style.”

    Biblically, “heart” includes the mind as well as the emotions. When either are eliminated — there is no true worship. Worship is to be a part of our lives constantly, moment by moment, that way, whatever corporate worship we are in is simply that —not the overall determinate of my worship. I will worship Him.

    Style either helps or hinders, and I guess our “personality type” makes a difference here. One of my Board members once said to me regarding “types,” “Its all just sin divided, and it has to be laid down anyway.” I think she is right. I have taken MB several times, but will not do so again. It always tells me I can’t do what I am doing. So much for being a help. So I lay me down, pick up His empowerment and do what He has appointed.


  6. Dan McGowan

    I can’t believe Colson’s insane comments are popping up again in blog-ville… I read these comments of his maybe – what – 2 months ago or something – on another post. At the time, they infuriated me. He has a right to his opinion – of course. We all do. That’s what the body of Christ is – opinionated, broken people loved by Jesus and who, supposedly, love each other.

    But these comments of Colson’s were not loving. In fact, they were arrogant. I said so on a few blogs I visted. I said so on my blog. And I told him directly in an email I sent him. I got back an auto reply email – (Very nice, Chuck…)

    The worship wars will continue until all of us finally figure out that we are not called to ENJOY the worship music or GET OUR WAY during the worship service. Yet, we are programmed as such – and it won’t stop until WE WHO LEAD have the courage to honeslty do what we are called to do – which is NOT “lead worship” but, rather, “JUST WORSHIP.”

    It’s fine to plea for a halt to the wars… but that’s sort of like pleading for gravity to end.

    It all begins with ME…

  7. michael h

    My feelings regarding the shallowness of many contemporary praise choruses aside…this seems appropriate:

    “Let your religion be less of a theory and more of a love affair.” – G. K. Chesterton

  8. Ronni

    Hrm… well as an ESFJ who LOVES worship….and writes worship songs… I’m sure there could be some interesting discussions about my songs… LOL…

    I do tend to disagree with the statement that NT’s are the ones on the net, etc….

    I have been on the internet since the early 80’s when it wasn’t even the internet… I’m a geek to most of my friends and family, I fix peoples webpages, computers, spent countless hours on the internet and have even written computer programs…

    But then again, I never do quite fit anything considered a norm. 😀

    Even for an ESFJ.

  9. Dire Dan: “These worship wars are complete nonsense, folks.”

    I think you have summed it up, pretty much. Come to think of it, over time, I’ve gotten a lot less agitated about the subject.

    Maybe some songs are there to teach us patience, that we cannot have things all our way all the time.

    I do wish sometimes that one song would come back. It was a scripture in Revelations set to the tune of “pretty shells across the ocean” (aka the “C&H Sugar” commercial jingle). Anybody remember that one?

  10. the voice

    Dan, I believe(?) that I am a NT type personality, but I learned long ago that everyone worships in their own way. I’ve been to worship services in Africa, in Central America, as well as a number of different styles here in the states. Honestly, one of the most spiritually moving experiences for me was at a Michael W. Smith concert, where you had 20,000 people with their hands, and voices raised to God. I.m sorry to say, but I believe that there are a lot of Christians out there who are more into judging others, rather than accepting them. I would think that as Christians, we are called to accept, and foregive one another. I hope he never visits my site, as my music, while Christian, rocks!

  11. Bo Fawbush

    Thank you for your fair-mindedness in writing this blog. I am a Calvinist ISFJ (for those keeping score), and I long to live the proper balance of head and heart.

  12. Jennifer

    BRAVO, DAN!!!!

    I hate to say this to the NTs out there, but we can’t put a tricorder on a Christian connecting with the Lord and derive any kind of meaningful data out of the experience.

    Amen and amen.

  13. Anonymous

    I don’t know what personality type I am, but reading your posting gave me the same feeling I so often have when talking to my fellow Christians who enjoy the non-NT, frequently contemporary “weepy-eyed Jesus” music that does’t really excite me; the feeling that I must belong to some parallel universe. Maybe I am an NT. I’ve listened to Michael W. Smith, I’ve been at a mass gathering and listened to contemporary Christian musicians with several thousand other beleivers, and I can honestly say it didn’t do much for me. But I give it a try, and do not deride those that like it, understanding that it is meaningful to them. In other words, I’m willing to give on this. I only wish I would be granted the same respect. While you say we must grant a truce in the worship wars, your post seems to say that those of us that don’t absolutely love the “weepy-eyed Jesus music” have no passion for the Lord. Many of the old, sedate hymns leave me misty eyed time and time again. I recently attended a service featuring a choir singing Baroque Lenten music, and heard many there comment on how moving the service was. Just because some of us don’t shout, shake, and dance doesn’t mean our love for Christ exists only in our minds. There may be legions of NT Chuck Colson-ites out there, but I know from experience, there are just as many on the other side who are as unwilling to concede. If there is to be a truce, it has to come from all sides.

  14. Brian,

    Glenn Wichmann and Michael Toy created Rogue. Glenn, Michael, and I all attended the same Vineyard church in Palo Alto, CA during the late 1990s. Glenn and Michael are both outstanding guys.

  15. kelli

    It doesn’t have to be an either/or situation. I have been in churches that did a nice mix in one service.

    But you know something that bothers me? This probably should not bother me but it does; churches that have to have two completely different church services so that nobody will be forced to hear some songs that they don’t like. If a church needs to have two services because of space constraints (my church is at that place now, and might end up with three services) I prefer the services be planned the same way. I think the whole contemporary service vs. traditional service is divisive. If some of your people like the old hymns and some of your people like the hand-clapping peppy stuff and some of your people like the soft emotional songs, why not do all of them in each service?

    And another thing, while I am here at your site to complain, I think Chuck Colson misbehaved. He misbehaved in church and then went on to brag about it. Look at it this way, if my child were to speak in a church service against something that the church leadership had done I would be livid. That child would not be out bragging about the deed. That child would be in his room crying over the lost gameboy, or the months of lost allowance, or something good like that. As we say here in Tennessee; “Didn’t Chuck’s momma teach him manners?” I am fairly certain that if an outburst of that nature took place at my church, the troublemaker would most likely receive a call from the pastor on Monday. You just don’t show that kind of disrespect towards the leaders of your house.

    Stepping down, handing the soapbox to the next participant!!

  16. Gaddabout said..
    The people who criticize those type of songs view worship in song as primarily an extension of the pulpit: It is a teaching didactic.
    I think that there should be a teaching function of worship songs, but not every song needs to be a lesson in systematic theology. When I plan or evaluate a worship service, I look at the service as a whole. The service needs to include solid teaching, a response to God’s word, and heart-felt praise. Part of the problem comes from expecting every single individual song to do the whole job. Look at the Psalms: some are quite theology laden, while others are more of a pouring out of feelings to God.

  17. Kristie

    Dan, I had a good laugh when I looked on the (dearly departed from the blogosphere) Marla Swoffer’s Blogroll of INTJs…and there was quite a list (as I am one of them), but when I looked up my husbands—ESTP there was the sound of crickets! Maybe a handful of them. Coincidence? I think not.

    I am a 5-pointer, dispensationalist, sola scriptura sort of woman, but I appreciate the meyers-briggs stuff anyhow…and yes Jung was a nut, but he did a good job at observing people.
    And the first time I did a Meyers-Brigg profile on myself, it unlocked many mysteries into why I am the way I am. But as a freind advised, it’s only an “adjective among adjectives” when describing any person.

    Having said that, I think there is a lot of truth in what you said. We are all wired a certain way and that wiring is marred by the fall. Those of us who are more introverted have to remember we still need people, those who are extaverted need to still take time for reflection, etc….

    NT’ers need to make room for feelings. Feeling people need to take time to think and be logical once in a while!

    But not all us NTs are hard hearted. I still like the song Breathe, because to me the essence of what it says is that I can’t even survive in the most basic human function without Him. I care about people who hurt, and the vast amount of people who don’t have the Gospel. And I prefer to sing a hymn to a guitar, then a church organ. I don’t lift my hands in worship, but I am jealous of those who feel the freedom to do so.

  18. Lin

    Just found your site and am cracking up over this post! As a veteran corporate trainer, I lived in MBTI land for 15 years. I finally quit using it about 7 years ago. Why? Because it is distracting and basically psychobabble mumbo jumbo. (Carl Jung, on which research it is based, was into some strange occult practices, by the way)

    Here are some interesting takes on it that are NOT scientific but anecdotal. Just for fun, we decided to test some of our clients twice. We told them to take the test answering questions based on their work life and then another test based on their home life. The results were astonishing. About the ONLY people who had similar personality traits on both tests were…drum roll…NT’s. We tested about 200 people this way. (By even asking the them to do this we placed in their minds they had different personalities at home than at work! See how this stuff works?)

    I am distressed to see so many churches using this test for volunteerism and to discover their ‘gifts’ so to speak. A better plan would be to seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

    Anyway, the ‘war’ over music is somewhat silly but I do see Colson’s point. I cringe when church plays songs that do not mention Jesus by name. That is the ONLY reason I am there. And just a quick reading of Psalms, one is amazed at how many times THE NAME is mentioned and glorified!

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