Warning: this post is not about submarines or lean manufacturing. While there is some historical information buried in it, that is not the sole focus of the post. If talking about faith and beliefs triggers you, please return to your other favorite spots for the day.
Can I get an Amen?
Quiet day today. Debbie is resting. She finally got caught by the Covid bug so we are in a stand down recovery mode. She was a dutiful citizen and got three shots but we are finding out that the sneaky little monster can outwit even the best of modern medical intentions.
Needless to say, we did not go to church today. But we did do our daily devotions which includes prayer, a reading from the Upper Room and the scriptures that come along with the daily read. It’s a habit we started a while ago and I find that the day goes better when things follow that path.
I was thinking a lot about a conversation I had with a young friend last night. We worked together at a small church for a few years and had developed a good friendship. He is growing in his faith and was one of the members of the congregation that really seemed to get the messages I was presenting. He is also an incredibly talented musician and provided the music for the services.
After Easter, several members of the leadership team made it clear that my time there was over. I am a gospel preacher with very conservative leanings. I never interjected politics into my messages, but I did talk a lot about what the scripture says about following God’s path. One of the leaders is a hard left party official from another party and stopped coming when I would preach. We also found out that she was working to turn others away for me being there. All things considered, I just felt it was time to move on.
During my time there (over two years not counting Covid shutdown) my musician friend and I worked closely to make sure the music matched the message. I also asked him to add the word Amen to the hymns. We used two different Presbyterian hymn books and in many cases, the word Amen was eliminated some time ago. That follows the pattern set by the Methodist church which led the way in purging Amen from their hymns.
I grew up in a church where the Amen was part of nearly every hymn.
The word itself has a lot of unique meanings.
The Cambridge Dictionary has one of the best definitions and it captures my beliefs. When Amen is said or sung at the end of a prayer or a religious song it expresses agreement with what has been said. Simple. Elegant. A beautiful word that allows you to further commit to what you just said or sang.
Amen is a word of Biblical Hebrew origin. The word originated in the Hebrew Scriptures, as a confirmatory response; it is found in Deuteronomy as a confirmatory response made by the people. Moreover, in the Books of Chronicles (16:36), it is indicated that around 1000 BC, the word was used in its religious sense, with the people responding “Amen” upon hearing the blessing.
Amen is used 78 times in the Bible. (Some scholars say more, some less)
Amen as a Confirmatory response.
When you say the word Amen, you confirm what you just prayed or sang. You are committed to the actions or beliefs that you just said or sang. It should never be taken lightly even though too many people do.
In 1989, the Methodist led the charge to remove the Amen based on their interpretation of the writings of Erik Routley in Church Music and the Christian Faith (Carol Stream, IL: Hope Publishing Co., 1978), whose essay on the liturgical use of “Amen” is included in its entirety in The Hymns of The United Methodist Hymnal (Diana Sanchez, Volume Editor; Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1989, pp. 269-271).
Alisa Childers, author of “Another Gospel?” describes deconstruction in this way:
“Deconstruction is the process of going through everything you’ve ever believed about God and Jesus—the Bible, Christianity, all of the doctrines, all of the history—everything you thought about it, and you’re sort of rethinking everything.”
In other words, we destroy all of the creeds, words, bible verses we disagree with and the very fruit of the spirit that makes us Christian.
From 1989 until now, the main line churches have continued their slide into obscurity. There is still a lot of legacy money and large buildings. But more and more those buildings are empty shells. The once proud Methodist church is facing a crisis of schism because of its internal fundamental differences. It is no longer a church of God, it is a church of progressive theology versus traditional theology.
The loss of the word Amen means that you no longer have to commit. Not that most would know that. Theology is only taught in seminary now and even then what you get form too many seminaries is watered down feel good messages diluted with man inspired progressivism. Social justice is the driving need. I recently heard a major church leader say that systemic racism was the biggest problem facing his denomination.
No sir. The hundreds of empty pews and the lack of enough pastors to carry forth God’s word is the biggest problem facing your denomination. Your attempts to be too much like the world are your greatest failings.
Can I get an Amen?
So, what’s the point of this blog post? Well, I’m purging a bit. I hate having to leave work undone, but I am at the age where I know when the dark forces have aligned to a point where no amount of work will make a difference.
My young friend wanted some advice. Since I have been gone, the old forces have decided to purge their memories of me. The first thing to go was the use of the Amen at the end of the hymns. He was directed to stop using it in his playing. And it really bothered him since we had talked about why it was significant to the worship.
Now I can’t say if the word itself was offensive or just that I brought it back. A true progressive would want it purged to show enlightenment. My denomination is also filled with feminists that wanted at one point to add a-woman every time you say A-men. You know, the whole paternalism thing. God the Father. Jesus Christ His Son.
My young friend wanted to know if he should move on. I told him that he needed to be where he could spiritually grow. Only he can answer that question. Several others that were in the same place have already left. He is young enough and talented enough that another church filled with the spirit and solid scriptural teaching would be thrilled to have him. But one thing I asked him: please don’t give up on God. Please find a home that will help you to grow and serve.
I realize I have violated one of the cardinal rules of blogging.
Again. Not only have I done political things but now I have touched the third rail of religion.
In a few weeks, I will be back to blogging about submarines, history, the Navy and other things. But this was on my mind.
God bless you and I pray you find the peace that passes understanding in your life. Amen.
1 Chronicles 16:36
Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, From everlasting even to everlasting.
Then all the people said, “Amen,” and praised the Lord.