By Lindell Mitchell
The pagan general, Naaman, sought a cure of leprosy from God's prophet. When the prophet did not meet his expectations, he angrily said, "Behold, I thought that he would surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper" (2 Kings 5:11). Naaman's notion about what God should do was firmly fixed. Let the utter arrogance of his attitude sink in, then try to fathom the gall of a man taking offense at God's directive and stomping off in a huff.
We see people do the same thing all the time. They decide how God should act, what he should say, and what he should do. If their expectations are not met, God's will is brazenly rejected. Religion is modified to suit human fancy and presented to the Lord with a "takeitorleaveit" attitude. Shades of Cain.
"I thought" is all-powerful. Menken said, "This 'I thought' is the most mighty of all mighty things upon earth, and even if it is not the most ruinous of all ruinous things, it is yet certainly the most unfortunate of all unfortunate ones."
We must focus on what God says, not what "I think." What God says counts; what "you think" does not.
We are in God's image (Gen. 1:2627), but he is still very much "other." God is fundamentally different from us. God said, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, for as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts" (Isa. 55:89).
Attempting to modify God's church is silly. Change agents think their endorsement of a particular change proves God favors it. After all, they are innovative and hip, surely the Lord is, too.
Osburn says in his little book, The Peaceable Kingdom, "We must develop a biblical theology of worship and learn to worship very well." This truculent book is grossly misnamed. It produces nothing peaceable.
Who does Osburn "think" we need to learn how to worship from? The sources cited in his book indicate it is ivory-towered infidels and liberal denominational clergymen.
Dr. Osburn is Arkansas' Big Bubba of change-agents. He, Mike Cope, Rubel Shelly, Max Lucado, and many lesser-lights, demand dramatic change. Worship is a prime target for radical modification. We are told that our enlightened peers will not tolerate "thread bare speeches" on "irrelevant themes." Big Bubba says so. Change now or else.
When Osburn says he wants us to develop a "biblical theology of worship," he is saying there is not one. We praise, pray, and preach according to biblical directives. We reprove, rebuke, and exhort according to the Bible. The Bible dictates our acts of worship. The Bible dictates their form. The Bible dictates the day we worship. The Bible dictates even our attitude in worship. What does Osburn wants us to learn about worship we do not already know?
Are we to believe that no one in the Lord's church knew how to worship prior to Carroll D. Osburn's arrival? If he did not learn a biblical theology of worship in his Arkansas boyhood congregation, where his father was an elder, where did he learn it? Was it at the feet of liberal denominational professors at Vanderbilt University and St. Andrews University where he obtained two terminal degrees?
Osburn and his colleagues "think" we must change. Some men among them regularly preach in denominational churches, commending false doctrine. They promote the intra-denominational,, neo-pentecostal, heavily premillennial Promise Keeper's Movement. Busloads of biblically illiterate, emotionally unstable, incredibly gullible men flock to the Willow Creek Community Church to learn how to worship. These modern denominational magicians know how to put on a slick show. They teach exciting things, but a biblical theology of worship is not one of them.
To develop a biblical theology of worship, Osburn and friends must abandon their flawed approach to biblical studies. What they call "controlled-exegesis" is imposing evolutionary constructs, which are humanistic, onto the Scriptures. To develop a genuine biblical theology requires actually going to the Bible for instruction. It means calling Bible things by Bible names, and doing Bible things in Bible ways. It means speaking only where the Bible speaks and remaining silent where it is silent. When conflict arises between what they "think" and what God says, it means accepting what God says. It requires learning to like what God likes.
The Lord's Word will judge us in the last day (John 12:48). Those who love him will keep his commandments (John 14:15). This only leads to heaven.