The attached video is part of a presentation by Ian Morgan Cron at the Five Two Wiki conference this fall. It has the feel of a youth convention. Here is a tweet on the video clip on the Five Two web page:
There is something incredibly beautiful in chanting “shalom” together as a body of believers. Thank you Ian Morgan Cron
Ian Morgan Cron is an Episcopal priest, lecturer, psychotherapist and apparent docent to the universe.
Here is a clever, contrary tweet on the same post by confessional Lutheran James Wilson:
Some folks are known to say ‘shalom, shalom’ where there is no peace.
Wilson is right. This is not the shalom that passes understanding through the forgiveness of sins. Here is what I think is going on in this clip. The Five Two people are picking up on two things: 1) the passion of an emotional high and 2) a sense of “the other.”
Neither is wrong or bad if understood properly. Emotion and passion are gifts from God and Christianity does put man in touch with “the other.” The problem with Five Two is that they turn these into fundamental and substantial expressions of the faith rather than by-products of the faith that honestly are by-products even in the worship of false gods although there the One, True, Other is not encountered.
They also do not realize that the 2,000 year old liturgy effectively promulgates these two things, emotion and a sense of “the other,” but as by-products of the one true faith and not replacements for it.
Singing Scripture can be emotional but in the form that we see here it is extremely juvenile (i. e. something we got caught up in junior high and high school). Scripture is ripped out of the authentic Christ-centered, cross-focused form (borrowing that great phrase from Issues, Etc.) given it by the liturgy so that it becomes what James Wilson notices, crying “peace, peace” where there is no peace (Jeremiah 8:11).
The liturgy has been providing a “sense of the other” for 2,000 years. It does it for sure through the emotion experienced when Scripture is put to song but those emotions are deceptive and are experienced even in false religions. Also “The Other” is experienced in no more real way than in the liturgy of Holy Baptism and Holy Communion where Christ is really present, whether we feel Him or not. And that is the Gospel, the truth of God’s Word that He is for us whether we feel it or not. Emotions are secondary and derived. The Gospel is primary and the one thing needful.
But there is something even more serious than emergent worship going on here. Here are a few select quotes from Father Cron (from his blog).
What we need is here. It’s hard for us to believe this is really true. Most of us believe that what we need is anywhere else but here. But when St Paul writes, ‘For in him we live and move and have our being’ he is not handing us a notional theological abstraction. He is saying that we live in a God drenched universe.
God’s loving presence suffuses the whole of creation [so] we don’t need to maintain this manic, striving life. Everything we need is already here.
Sadly we don’t see it. We rarely enjoy the urgent immediacy of God that is in everything our eyes behold and in every human transaction in which we participate.
So what makes a contemplative different?
A contemplative is someone who is being graced with a new perceptive appreciation, a capacity to see God in all things. They are arrested by God’s presence in the wind moving through trees, his majesty in the sight of a cardinal perched on a snow laden bush… The contemplative has a growing capacity to recognize the Vestigia Dei—the footprints of God everywhere she looks. As a result of receiving these new eyes the contemplative moves through life radically amazed, full of awe, graced with a rich awareness that all of life, as poet Elizabeth Barrett Brown wrote, is “crammed with God.
That is some scary, detached-from-the-cross stuff. This is not someone we ought to be hanging out with. We are to flee false teachers (Romans 16:17, Walther, Thesis VIII on the Church). As Dr, Normal Nagel always said, “If you can’t nail it to the cross it is not Christian.” No wonder this clip from the Five Two conference seems like a youth conference. These are youthful and enthusiastic (schwarmerei) minds that got impatient with and tired of the liturgy and never got over the juvenile need for an emotional high and so are looking to re-invent church. It’s not necessary guys. Give it up. You are hurting the Gospel.