How to pray like a Pharisee 17

A week or so ago, we were looking at Brad Cooper’s gun-assisted sermon on how worship is a weapon. Although we were rudely interrupted by the Gary Lamb news, a couple of things in his closing prayer warrant a few more bullet points.

In his exposition, he criticizes existing worship styles.

In our evangelical culture we have neutered worship, and we sing empty, superficial posturing.

Then he comes to the prayer:

God, I pray for this culture, that, Lord, we would recognize the potential we have as worshippers of you. That we don’t just sing songs to sing. That we don’t just sing songs because people have done it for hundreds of years. That we don’t just worship you because it’s a sacred cow that people just always constantly do. That it’s not boring, that it’s not weak. God, I ask and beg you for forgiveness for the fact that we have worshipped in a neutered manner in churches all over our world for years.

Now, some un-neutered questions:

  • What is sexual worship? If neutered worship is such a bad thing, what is its opposite? Does this explain Perry Noble’s interest in little blue pills? Is this why it’s a good thing to have condoms and sex magazines in church?
  • Is worship not sacred? We’ll be doing it constantly in heaven, so what’s wrong with starting now?
  • How can worship ever be boring? We’d only worry about that if worship was all about us, or if it was supposed to be something useful to us. You know, like a weapon.
  • How does God forgive you for someone else’s sin? Since Cooper obviously doesn’t engage in neutered worship, how is he in a position to ask forgiveness for someone else’s sin? (Leaving off the fact that he hasn’t explained why it is something we need to beg forgiveness for.) The effect, given that the repentance is not being offered on behalf of anyone in the room, is to announce how great and righteous his own worship is. It’s the kind of prayer that Pharisees specialized in. From Luke 18:11:

    The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men-robbers, evildoers, adulterers-or even like this tax collector.’

  • Is Cooper more important than these kids’ parents? Of the many reasons I wouldn’t recommend NewSpring’s youth group, the most important one is the lack of respect it gives to parents. When Cooper asks forgiveness for the old ways of doing worship, he is quite clearly referring to worship that happens in other churches. The people in his audience are high schoolers, so if they have attended other sinfully worshipping churches, it would have been at the initiative of their parents, many of whom probably still attend those churches. Cooper is telling his kids that their parents have led them into sinful worship.

Cooper got the message about worship as a weapon wrong in the first place, but his self-righteous repentance for sins he doesn’t commit, though his congregation’s parents do, is as aggressive and destructive as the weapon he cradles.

17 thoughts on “How to pray like a Pharisee

  1. KeithO Jun 15, 2009 1:44 pm

    Since PN can derisively refer to christians in other churches as “steeple people” from the NS stage (I was there when he said it), it is not a stretch that BCoop can apparantly dismiss, in wholesale, years of other people’s worship.

    Apparently, it is open season on “steeple people”.

  2. Seth Jun 15, 2009 3:48 pm

    The base point here is not all the people that ever worshiped, it is everyone who every worshiped without meaning it. I have been to church services in traditinal churches where you can just tell the people were singning because that is what the worship guide said to do next. I have been one of the ones to sing without really caring in a traditional church, the reason, no one ever informed me what worship was, they never taught a sermon on it or never explained it to me. So, you assume that he means every single person, the point here is that he is trying to teach the kids to worship with everything and mean it, not to just go through the motions. I mean, How did David worship God? He danced down the street looking like a fool. He enjoyed it because he knew it was for God. So, I think its ok for worship to be said to be not boring. If it was boring, would anyone want to do it? and if they did, would they put there heart into it? (I know some people really do worship and enjoying doing it the traditional way, but, not everyone worships the same way, what one person may prefer will be different from what someone else may prefer. Yes, the Bible tells us how to worship, but, not the exact method, you have people like david who danced around and you have people who sung, it varies from person to person as long as it done to honor God.) I know people who work for NS and their favorite song is not a rock song or what have you but a good old hymn.

  3. John Bunchan Jun 15, 2009 4:43 pm

    Seth:

    I really like the shots at traditional church. I really like the way that you can judge others motives. Where do I find that… Seth 21:12 “the people were singing because that is what the worship guide said to do next”.

  4. James Duncan Jun 15, 2009 5:17 pm

    Seth,

    We’ve seen two instances of NewSpring teaching about worship, and both times they’ve got it wrong (Noble on Simeon, and Cooper on weapons).

    It’s a bit much for you to be criticizing other churches for not teaching about worship. First, I doubt that that is true. Second, even if they didn’t, they didn’t get as much wrong as NS.

  5. Seth Jun 15, 2009 6:03 pm

    John

    So, where do you get off judging NS’s motives? I made a general statement because, like I said, I have been a part of it and I know people in the traditional church who have TOLD me they did it. Notice I did add that not everyone “fakes” it because I know they did not. and, just like in traditional churches, you have people who “fake” it at NS.

    Duncan

    Perry, on Simeon could have used the wrong passage, but the conclusion he drew drew about wroship was correct. Also, I have been to more traditional services than you must think I have, and never have I heard anyone give any mention as to why we worship. I grew up in one of the more traditional baptist churches, but was never saved. I know good things happen there, I also know they don’t always get it right. So, as you attack NS, I think I can draw from my past experiences in traditional churches as a source of my knowledge.

    Saying that, I have no problem with the prayer he prayed. He is enforcing the fact that you should mean it when you worship God.

  6. Twit Jun 15, 2009 8:17 pm

    I note BCoop’s reference to “neutered worship”. Is this the new reformation’s spin on Luke 19:40: “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”?!?

  7. Twit Jun 15, 2009 8:20 pm

    Totally unrelated @JDunc – I see you’ve found FaceYourManga” for your gravitar! Cool. Is that to prove to your peeps that you’re hip and down with it?

  8. JT Jun 15, 2009 9:23 pm

    JDunc —

    You said,” * What is sexual worship? If neutered worship is such a bad thing, what is its opposite? Does this explain Perry Noble’s interest in little blue pills? Is this why it’s a good thing to have condoms and sex magazines in church?”

    Just because he used the term “neutered”, doesn’t mean the opposite is “sexual.” You are putting words in his mouth. If I said that the South Carolina football team was impotent this year, that doesn’t mean I think that when they have a good season they are… well, I think you get the point.

    Oh, and there were no condoms or sex magazines at church. Nice try at twisting it, though.

    You said, ” * Is worship not sacred? We’ll be doing it constantly in heaven, so what’s wrong with starting now?”

    Cooper never said there was anything wrong with worship.

    You said, ” * How can worship ever be boring? We’d only worry about that if worship was all about us, or if it was supposed to be something useful to us. You know, like a weapon.”

    You are partially correct. Worship can only be boring when it is about ourselves. That was Cooper’s point.

    You said, ” * How does God forgive you for someone else’s sin? Since Cooper obviously doesn’t engage in neutered worship, how is he in a position to ask forgiveness for someone else’s sin? ”

    Again, you are putting words in Cooper’s mouth. He never asked to be forgiven for another’s sin. How many times in the OT did the prophets and leaders pray for the forgiveness of the sins of their people, hmmmm? This was a corporate prayer; not even close to the Pharisees individual prayer of self-righteousness.

    You said, ” * Is Cooper more important than these kids’ parents? Of the many reasons I wouldn’t recommend NewSpring’s youth group, the most important one is the lack of respect it gives to parents. When Cooper asks forgiveness for the old ways of doing worship, he is quite clearly referring to worship that happens in other churches. The people in his audience are high schoolers, so if they have attended other sinfully worshipping churches, it would have been at the initiative of their parents, many of whom probably still attend those churches. Cooper is telling his kids that their parents have led them into sinful worship.”

    Really? Where did you get that from? Where did he say he was criticizing worship done in other churches?

  9. Sara Jun 15, 2009 10:04 pm

    @JT

    If Cooper wasn’t criticizing worship in other churches, then what would you say he was criticizing?

  10. James Duncan Jun 16, 2009 12:44 am

    JT,

    I understand that neutered and sexual are not necessarily opposites, but I asked the question to highlight the meaninglessness of Cooper’s term. Worship is something we do in response to God’s power; it’s not intended to generate power by itself.

    The opened condoms were shown on stage in a way that depicted fornication. The sex magazine was shown all over the stage. I don’t see that I’m twisting anything.

    Cooper said we shouldn’t worship because it was sacred. I say that that is the very reason we worship.

    I understand your point about Cooper praying corporately, or you could say that he’s praying in a priestly role, which is certainly acceptable. The difference is that he is not praying for his corporate audience. He specifically says that it is OTHER churches that are doing this. He is not including his people in the prayer. Sara gets that bit.

    To the extent that he is criticizing worship in other churches in front of kids whose experience in other churches would have been at the instigation of their parents, he is criticizing those parents.

  11. Seth Jun 16, 2009 1:01 am

    Duncan

    If you read the prayer, no where does it say we did it right and they did it wrong, he says “this culture” and “God, I ask and beg you for forgiveness for the fact that WE have worshipped in a neutered manner in churches all over our world for years.” I capitalized the word we, because that means he is also talking about them, not just other churches. If he had been only referencing other churches he would have said then NOT we.

    Also, If you note the word before the comment about the sacred cow, it says “That we don’t just worship you…” I think the word just is very important here and I think you missed it, again it does not say to not worship like that, it says that we would do it like that and more, and that more is that we would actually mean it when we did it.

    And on the subject of parents, I am willing to bet that if their kid attends the student ministeries that the parent attends NS more times than not. Again, you miss the important word that means not limited to other churches and is inclusive of NS, the word WE. Again, the overall theme here is that we would mean it when we worship instead of doing it just to do it.

  12. David J Jun 16, 2009 7:34 pm

    Brad Cooper has issues. I’m still waiting on him to reply to my concerns about his usage of bamf. I’m not surprised Brad’s prayer is both rebellious and arrogant. It really saddens me to see how sin is destroying Brad Cooper.

    My prayer is for God to wake this guy up with some good old fashioned Holy Spirit conviction.

    2 Timothy 3:4-5

    In Christ,

    David J

  13. JT Jun 16, 2009 11:45 pm

    David J –

    Please read the title of the blog post that you’ve just commented on. I think you might find it ironic.

  14. David J Jun 17, 2009 2:14 pm

    JT,

    How is it ironic? I’m simply saying I hate watching sin destroy this man. Please explain to me what I said that was wrong? Would you have me not pray that God convicts Brad Cooper and work on his heart through the Holy Spirit?

  15. JT Jun 17, 2009 3:15 pm

    David J –

    Luke 18:11 – “The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men-robbers, evildoers, adulterers-or even like this tax collector.’”

    You said, “I’m not surprised Brad’s prayer is both rebellious and arrogant. It really saddens me to see how sin is destroying Brad Cooper. My prayer is for God to wake this guy up with some good old fashioned Holy Spirit conviction.”

    Sure, it’s not exactly the same, but it struck me as an interesting parallel.

  16. David J Jun 17, 2009 3:28 pm

    Not really. I never claimed to be without sin or faults therefore I’m simply pointing out Brad’s attitude and praying that God convicts him. The Pharisee was not praying for the tax collector and this Pharisee was arrogant. Try reading that passage again my friend and you will see that I did not act as a Pharisee.

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