A couple of weeks ago, NewSpring’s Twitter account linked to a blog post written by one of its members praising Perry Noble and the church. NewSpring rarely links to other blogs, so this appears to be a careful choice to advertise the virtues of their church and pastor. The post, written by Sarah Monk, whom I don’t know beyond her post, is a remarkable demonstration of the anti-church pathologies that routinely infect Perry’s preaching.
The diatribe speaks for itself; nevertheless I’ll interrupt with a little bit of commentary here and there.
I don’t know how else to reach Perry personally,
Monk is apparently a keen member of her church, but doesn’t know how to reach her pastor. Perhaps this is a clue that a church has grown too large and a pastor too remote. I’m not suggesting that pastors must meet every member whenever and wherever they want to, but members should at least know how to ask.
but I HAD to write him and the NewSpring worship team after watching ‘Culture in the Church vs Church in the Culture’ a video from the Elephant Room. Just to say thank you.
I am beyond blessed to have a church and a pastor who UNAPOLOGETICALLY describes the way we do worship. In the video Perry is chatting with James McDonald, Mark Driscoll and other well known pastors about Perry’s decision to have Highway To Hell open up NewSpring’s Easter services. After bantering back and forth with Perry, James McDonald looked to the four pastors (Steven Furtick, Matt Chandler, David Platt and Greg Laurie) sitting behind him and asked if any of them would play that song in their church. Of the six other pastors in the room, not one of them said they would have played that song. Their excuses
Excuses? This is backwards, though consistent with Perry’s perspective. Monk assumes that it’s a given that the right thing is to play Highway to Hell, and that the other pastors are in the wrong for not playing it. Isn’t it Perry who should have the burden of offering the excuse, not the more orthodox (at least in this instance) pastors?
were “their own flesh”, “they knew the weight of God’s grace and reverence”, “worship should be glorifying to God”, etc etc
Hallelujah. As much chaff that did come out of the ER series, at least in this moment a couple of pastors understand what worship really is. This is heartening, though not to Monk.
After listening to each pastor defend why they wouldn’t play the song, and hearing Perry explain why he did, I am SO PROUD of what NewSpring stands for.
Except that he lied about what he stood for. He told the ER audience that he made the decision after prayer, not because he wanted to “piss people off.” As this YouTube clip shows, he had claimed the opposite to his Unleash audience just a few weeks earlier. He wanted to find something that would “piss off the religious people.”
Besides the lie, there are a few interesting points about his Unleash story.
- He was thinking about pissing of the religious people because Easter was coming. Forget celebrating the most significant event on the Christian calendar, for Perry, Easter becomes a cudgel to beat up other Christians.
- He was listening to Highway to Hell while he was praying. If this is Perry’s devotional music, using it in worship makes sense.
- He mocks a perfectly appropriate resurrection song, though, as Monk has already suggested, pastors need to give an excuse for playing reverent worship songs.
We are a church desperate to reach out to the unbelievers or those who have walked away from the Lord. NewSpring does whatever we can to reach the lost, and meet them where they are, exactly like Christ did! Perry’s ‘defense’ to McDonald
The ‘quotes’ are appropriate.
was how God used astrology to lead the wise men to Jesus in Matthew 2.
And Perry is breathtakingly wrong and demonstrates an AC/DC-level understanding of Scripture. The Old Testament messianic prophecies, especially from Daniel, allowed wise interpreters of Scripture to anticipate that the Messiah would be born exactly when he was. The wise men read the Bible and their astronomic calendars, not their astrological horoscopes.
Even though McDonald dismissed it, I believe Perry and NewSpring’s vision align PERFECTLY with that illustration.
I agree. NewSpring is led by a pastor who believes that God genuinely speaks through anything, including horoscopes.
To the typical “church-background Christian”
Why is this in quotes unless you want to suggest that you’re not talking about real Christians? Watch a video of Noble preaching, and you’ll see his “finger quotes” almost every time he talks about non-NewSpring “Christians.”
anything and everything about NewSpring is terrifying.
We are not terrified of NewSpring (well, some of us are). Is it possible we have principled objections to NewSpring’s message and methods?
They have probably never been to a church where you were allowed to wear jeans, or where the women didn’t have to wear dresses and panty hose!
Show me a church where this is required or where jeans are banned. Monk seems to be effectively repeating the ugly caricature that permeates Noble’s weekly preaching. Really, randomly pick any Noble sermon, jump in at any point, and see how long it takes for him to take a swipe at other churches or Christians. The problem is that it comes to the surface so often that listeners like Monk seem to have accepted his vision as accurate.
It’s worth noting how quickly Monk, in the same fashion as her pastor, jumps to a slur against almost all other Christians. There are no qualifiers to specify that she’s only talking about a few unusual examples. No, if you don’t go to NewSpring, you must be a jeans-free uptight hose wearer.
They have probably never been greeted at the front door with people were were actually happy and EXCITED to be there.
This is the attitude that bothers me about the ubiquitous “I [heart] my church” T-shirts we see all over Anderson. They are more a taunt than a celebration. The message is that other people just endure their church, but NewSpringer’s really love theirs. Not all NSers who wear that shirt think that, but that was the spirit behind Noble’s sermon when they were first distributed.
They have probably never been surrounded by people actually worshiping the Lord with the sound of hands clapping or the sight of a man’s hand’s raised high in the air.
Like in this celebrated worship scene from NewSpring?
Sure, you won’t see hands raised or hear clapping in all churches, but I’d guess that at least half of American churches in 2013 see this every Sunday. I’m curious why Monk thinks an absence of clapping and waving is a problem. If you’re playing H2H on Easter, what are your rules for acceptable worship?
And those with children have probably never heard their child begging to go back to church next Sunday.
Perhaps not, but why is this relevant? Children shouldn’t determine where the family goes to church. Also, why are the NewSpring kids begging their parents to go back? They aren’t even allowed in the main service.
But worst of all they have probably never heard the FREEDOM of the Gospel. With so many sermons on “Thou shalt nots”
Because the Bible does have a lot of “thou shalt nots.” God coined the phrase, actually.
I’m sure they were never exposed to the raw and beautiful unrestricted Gospel that Perry brings EVERY SINGLE SUNDAY.
Except when he recruits preachers to preach about Perry.
A Sunday at NewSpring has to be terrifying as they slowly realize their whole life has been structured around religion instead of a relationship.
There’s nothing wrong with religion, so long as it’s true religion. Monk has her own religion too, but it’s a religion of relationship. If you are going to reject the institutions and creeds that the Apostles and our Christian forefathers developed for us, you’d better be sure that you are getting very solid teaching about the object of your relationship. In Noble, I don’t see it. In fact, his teaching about Jesus isn’t even predicated on what he reads in Scripture. I wrote about this three years ago, but this Noble quote is worth repeating here:
All too often we seek answers in the Scriptures when we should be seeking Jesus…because HE will ultimately BE the answer to whatever we are facing.
Noble believes in a savior that can’t be found in Scripture. If this is the relationship that Noble and Monk are building their whole lives on, they (and we) ought to be worried. They are creating a fictional Jesus, so there’s a very good chance that at some point their religion of relationship will become a false religion, if it’s not already. That is terrifying.
If you want to explore this idea further, this 23-minute Rosebrough analysis of T.D. Jakes’ heretical argument argument against Scripture is worth a listen. If Jakes’ and Noble’s positions sound similar, it won’t surprise you that Jakes is one of Noble’s role models.
On the other hand… To the typical non-believer, I’m sure anything and everything about NewSpring is NOT normal.
Perhaps not, but that ought not be the standard against we measure churches, which are collections of believers who gather every Sabbath to worship, hear God’s Word preached, and participate in the sacraments. Churches aren’t to exclude non-believers (with the exception of excommunication, but that’s not what what we’re talking about here), but they shouldn’t be built to meet non-believers’ expectations. When you invite friends to your home for dinner, I’m sure they find some of what you do and the ways you’ve arranged your home strange and uncomfortable. Ought you design your home for them? No. It’s designed for your family, even though it’s not so totally foreign that friends can’t find themselves welcome and mostly comfortable there.
Church is the gathering place for God’s children. It ought to be designed and operated with them in mind first.
What do you mean I don’t have to cover up my tattoos? Are you sure I don’t need to wear my “Sunday best”?
Again, please point to a church with these rules. Most churches I know will welcome anyone and ignore their tattoos and wardrobe choices. One of the evidences of belonging to God’s family is that we gradually grow in sanctification. We might hope that after being exposed to God’s preached Word in church, there might be a tattoo or two that we think ought to be covered up based on their content, or that our understanding of worship would encourage us to prepare for it as seriously as possible. For some, that preparation might also mean they want to dress in special ways, too.
Noble and Monk operate as if tattoos, jeans, dresses, etc. are matters of rules, apparently not understanding that for some they are reflections of the heart. A healthy church will encourage heart change, meaning that rules for or against these things aren’t necessary.
How come these people are smiling at me like they are excited about me being here? Why am I not getting weird looks when people notice my nose ring? They don’t care that I have three children under five and I don’t have a wedding ring on?
If I’m a solo parent with three kids, I’d hope that someone would care. Though try to take your kids with you into the service, and you’ll see how quickly their bouncers care.
Whoa, I listened to this song last night, are they ‘allowed’ to listen to that?
Again, this is a sanctification and heart issue. A growing Christian will naturally grow concerned that their playlists honor God.
This pastor is talking about WHAT??? Dang, I’m living in my mom’s basement playing video games all day, and he is actually calling me out on it… RESPECT.
Wait, I thought he preached the raw gospel? Why is he making up rules like this? Wear jeans on the Sabbath Day, but thou shalt not play video games. Sounds like something a man-made religion would do.
Did he just say his wife was hot from stage????
How does that even get into a sermon? He should be telling that to her, not us.
Instead of feeling beat up from all the bad stuff I’ve done in my life, I actually have hope for the first time…that’s different.
This is a profound shame, and suggests that the gospel isn’t actually being preached. What is it that has given this imaginary visitor hope? If it’s just to have a better life or to join an exciting movement, that can be found with Oprah or in politics.
The good news of the gospel is that I can be saved from the sins that have caused my death. In this way, law and gospel work together. The law shows me my wretchedness, and unless the Holy Spirit makes me aware of the depths of my fallenness, usually through preaching, I won’t see a need for a savior. If I don’t feel broken because of all the bad stuff I’ve done, what am I being saved from? To whom am I looking for that salvation?
We already know that Monk appreciates the lack of “thou shalt not” preaching she hears from Noble, but it’s essential for the gospel. Paul anticipated the fact that “though shalt not” preaching wouldn’t be popular, but commanded Timothy to preach it anyway. Here are the first few verses from 2 Timothy 4:
I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.
For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.
Good preaching must include reproof and rebuke, otherwise the exhortations just feed our sin. This sound teaching is difficult to listen to and difficult to attract a crowd with, yet Paul continues by telling Timothy to endure and be sober-minded. It’s God’s pattern for preaching, so it matters.
Man, this church thing is really different than what everyone has always told me, I think I’ll come again next week.
Why? Why are people feeling like this? Because NewSpring has the GUTS to BE DIFFERENT! NewSpring as a church has taken its NEXT STEP to be NOT NORMAL!
I agree again, though abnormal is not always good.
And guess what.. It’s working. Lives are being changed, people are meeting Jesus and Heaven is getting a little more crowded!!!!! PRAISE GOD for a church and a pastor who has the guts to pursue the lost with everything they’ve got!
The problem is that the found tend to be neglected in a system like this. Where are the shepherds who feed Christ’s sheep with everything they’ve got?
Do you know why I think other churches don’t want to play Highway to Hell? Not because it’s not ‘glorifying to God’ (clearly if a man got saved that Easter Sunday then God was glorified…just saying)
This is an argument that Monk repeats in her postscript below, and it’s an important one. We need to answer two questions: was playing H2H good, and did it bring God glory? The easiest one to answer is the second one. Yes, playing H2H brought God glory, though that answer needs some explanation.
- God is always glorified. God brings glory to himself (here’s John Piper on this). Because he does all things perfectly, God is always perfectly glorified. Also, because God providentially guides all things, nothing that happens, including pastors playing H2H at Easter, diminishes his glory in any way.
- Sin brings God glory. The Fall brings God glory by presenting his Son as our redeemer. Judas’ betrayal of Jesus brought God glory by fulfilling prophecy and leading to the crucifixion and resurrection. David’s adultery with Bathsheba brought God glory by leading to the eventual conception of Solomon, through whom the line of Christ ran. Joseph’s kidnap and sale into slavery glorified God by preserving his people in Egypt. We could go on. The point is that God, through his infinite mercy, always uses sin for his own purposes. What we can say then is that sin glorifies God, though it is not glorious in itself. God uses sin for good, though sin itself is never good.
- Sin shows God’s glory clearly. Our recognition of God’s goodness is enhanced by understanding our fallenness. Job, who was reduced to nothing, saw God’s glory in profound ways by understanding the difference between the creature and the Creator. Think of it this way: If you’ve seen Usain Bolt run, you know that he’s a glorious runner. If you saw him race against me, he would appear even more glorious.
So, to say that Highway to Hell glorified God doesn’t exclude the possibility that playing it was sin. I’ll discuss the reason more fully by citing Leviticus 10 below, but I think it’s safe to say that playing H2H in worship – well, anywhere – is a sin. (How many tithed dollars were paid in royalties to the composer of that evil song?) But, the second part of the argument goes, it was good because someone got saved. By this reasoning, any environment wherein someone is saved is good and God glorifying. Let’s see where we could take this:
- People were saved in Hitler’s concentration camps, therefore the Holocaust was good.
- Many American slaves were saved, therefore slavery was good.
- Someone was convicted of sin while visiting a brothel, therefore brothels are good.
These statements are obviously false. Both Scripture and history show us that God is not limited by circumstances in being able to reach the people he saves. Apparently, he can even bring someone to salvation in a church that decided to play H2H to celebrate Christ’s resurrection. Praise God for his amazing grace.
but because they are TERRIFIED of the reaction of their congregation.
Hallelujah. Those pastors should be happy that they have discerning congregations.
They know they will get backlash and nasty emails and dirty looks from those people that are set in their ways!
Those people? This was the quote that the NS Twitter feed used to point to this article, so they seem attracted to the phrase. This is the same attitude exemplified with the quotation marks around “Christians.” Monk and NewSpring itself seem eager to emphasize the distance between themselves and those other Christians.
They know that people might actually walk away from the church if they were to play Highway to Hell. But NewSpring isn’t afraid. NewSpring is running the good race, SPRINTING towards Jesus.
See, this is why we’re confused by the choice of that hymn to Satan. If you’re sprinting towards Jesus, why would you open a service that proclaims exactly the opposite? Worship is not typically an ideal setting for irony.
Perry isn’t afraid of what the ‘world’ might do to his church, but what God might to do him if he isn’t doing everything as a pastor to reach these lost souls.
If so, he hasn’t paid enough attention to Leviticus 10.
Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it and laid incense on it and offered unauthorized [strange] fire before the LORD, which he had not commanded them.
And fire came out from before the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD.
God cares very much about the way he is worshipped. The sobering thing about this incident is that Nadab and Abihu were making their offering to God, apparently thinking they were doing something good, but it wasn’t what God had asked for. If it was a sin for them to try to worship God their own way, what do you say about someone who thinks you ought to worship God by praising Satan? Worship matters.
So in closing, I have to say Perry, NewSpring staff, thank you thank you thank you for your unwavering faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. Thank you for taking YOUR next step in pursuing the lost. Thank you for continuously pouring out to the community and to each other. Without you… I don’t know where this state would be. I pray you are encouraged by this not just for today, but for 2013, for this is your best year yet. I know that God’s not done with this church or with it’s pastor. I also have a feeling that God is going to ask you to do some pretty outrageous stuff
What will count as outrageous? One assumes Monk is anticipating antics that won’t be supported by Scripture but by a vision God has given Perry. If you accept Highway to Hell as worship, how much room for outrage is left?
in this lifetime and I know without a doubt that my church has the guts and the faith to say, “yes” to God.
“Yes” to God’s what? What command was Noble obeying with H2H? Unless you can show that you’re saying yes to God’s written commands in Scripture, all you can be sure of is that you’re saying yes to the pastor’s dreams. I think the New Testament Bereans would suggest that Mrs. Monk treat Noble with a healthy dose of doubt, just as they did for Paul.
Praise God for NewSpring.
With love and blessings,
ps. My best friend and her husband were initially turned off to NewSpring because of the ‘secular’ music. They both loved Perry’s message, but preferred the traditional music. At the beginning of the year they attended the New Years Service where Perry addressed the ‘angry birds’ who disagreed with the music and read the email from the man who received Christ via a secular song NewSpring played. Almost instantly their hearts were changed.
Why do you have to read an email to support your worship practices? Shouldn’t a pastor want to answer the “angry birds” with Scripture?
Both attend NewSpring regularly now and claim they are closer to God than ever.
pss. My husband and I attended the Charleston campus before he was stationed on Oahu, Hawaii. We just wanted to send a HUGE thank you for allowing us to watch live every Sunday morning. We can’t wait to get back home to our Charleston NewSpring family, but until then I guess the Anderson worship team will do
I understand that Monk loves NewSpring, but aren’t there any churches in Oahu that would benefit from having her family join their congregation, even if temporarily?
Love you guys!!!!!