Why Worship Wars (Part 1)

Posted on August 9, 2021 by Catey Stover in Freedom Fighters

Sitting on the boardwalk last Saturday night in Ocean Grove, we were listening from a distance to the church that was providing worship in the Pavilion.

While we were sitting there, two senior “saints” walked by and the one looked at me and said, “You can’t possibly call THAT worship. That’s the kind of stuff you hear in a bar.”

My first thought was, “Were you ever in a bar?” and then I was trying to decide if I should respond to her comment.

She went on to say, “Well true worship would never include drums like that, and certainly not screeching!”

I asked her what she did with Psalm 150 where David says to “ Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals.” (150:5). Most translations now say, “Loud clashing cymbals.”

Worship has become so controversial. People get more fired up over styles of worship than they do if someone questions major doctrines. People get fired up over this issue. People leave churches over worship wars. What should be something that unites us often drives us apart.

We are not going to solve this issue in one Freedom Fighter, so I may write several of these just to get you to think. I am not asking you to agree with my position, but I am asking you to at least consider in your heart some of the fallacies that we are bantering about and calling it “biblical.”

Dr. Charles Zimmerman often teaches about the three concentric circles. I believe his description really helps.

  1. The innermost circle is ABSOLUTES. These are the things in the Scriptures that are for sure, for certain: Inspiration of Scripture, the virgin birth, salvation, the finished work of Christ, (etc., etc., and so forth and so forth!).
  2. The next circle is CONVICTIONS. Convictions are based on our personal interpretation of the Scriptures but not necessarily agreed on by every theologian. I can’t make the Bible necessarily back this position 100%, but it is what I believe the Bible is saying about a particular subject.
  3. The outer circle is my preferences. I can’t make it an absolute, it isn’t strong enough to be a conviction, it is what I personally like and wish everyone else would like.

Often we try to take our preferences and make them our convictions and absolutes.

Two illustrations.

Pastor Bill Raws (grandson of the founder) and I only had one major disagreement during our years together. It was over communion. We were serving real loaves of bread at our concluding conference communion service and he flipped on me one day. For Pastor Bill that was huge. He told me that it was unbiblical to use bread and it should be matzah. We were passing loaves with a napkin.

My Pastor growing up was an adjunct faculty member of Philadelphia College of Bible and an editor of the Schofield Reference Bible. For fifty years our church used cubed bread for communion. How could this be unbiblical?

In the final analysis, Pastor Bill didn’t think it was sanitary and matzah was more sanitary.

I asked him to think about this. Whenever he served communion he made sure he took the first piece of matzah out of the tray. By the time the tray made it to the back of the room and was brought to the front to serve the deacons, everyone’s fingers had touched the matzah. How sanitary is that? We both laughed. What he wanted to make as an absolute was more of a preference than even a conviction.

This is what happens with our worship wars. We tend to make our preferences our convictions and our convictions our absolutes.

I didn’t get very far. Hang in there. We will continue this next week. Wait to send me your arrows until I am done.

Living in light of the gospel,

Bill Welte, President/CEO
America’s Keswick


Written by Bill Welte, President/CEO of America’s Keswick: Bill has been married to his childhood sweetheart for 40+ years and has four married kids and 12 amazing grandkids. He loves music and is an avid reader.

Think About This: “Don’t worry about having the right words; worry more about having the right heart. It’s not eloquence he seeks, just honesty.” ― Max Lucado

The Daily Bible Reading: Ephesians 1 | You can download our 2021 Daily Bible Reading Plan by clicking here. 

This Week’s Verse to Memorize: Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of [a]God! Therefore the world does not know [b]us, because it did not know Him. 1 John 3:1

Want to get away & have dedicated time to read & learn God’s Word?

Consider a retreat at America’s Keswick retreat center.


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