As more congregations join Mackenzie Morgan in speaking out against "wishy-washy" theologies promoted in church worship music and pulpit speeches, Lancaster pastor Shane Idleman added nuance to the theological discussion.
"I appreciate Mackenzie Morgan's boldness to stand against wishy-washy churches," he wrote in his Christian Post column. "But I also think it's important to ask some additional questions."
Aside from evaluating if the services were God-honoring, if the songs were theologically sound, if the teachings were biblically correct, and the fruit those sermons and songs would produce, Idleman proposed two questions that he believes "may offer clarity."
Those two questions center on a group's "inconsistency" before followers totally stop subscribing to their worship songs, as well as Christians' duty to do their own research on the church or band they're supporting.
Under the "inconsistency" filter, Idleman questioned whether it was wise to reject all songs just because one conflicted with the beliefs of one of the worship teams' pastors. Some worship leaders, he said, are still "rock solid in their walk with the Lord," such as Kim Walker Smith and Sean Feucht.
But granted that there really is inconsistency on the part of the worship leaders, Idleman wrote that "it all depends on the severity of their error."
When it comes to investigating praise bands, the pastor of Westside Christian Fellowship pointed out that there are so many contradictory reports online that even a single picture may convey unfounded yet wild claims.
Speaking from his personal experience of being misrepresented because of a single photo he posted online, he emphasized the need to hear all sides of a story involving a high-profile worship leader or preacher.
"It is good to be concerned, and lovingly rebuke churches such as the ones mentioned above (Hillsong, Elevation, Bethel Music)," he said. "At the same time, we should consider the heart of the worship leader who is writing and leading the songs."
Why many dismiss "emotional worship" as less than theologically sound music
Idleman acknowledged that the bulk of modern worship groups are young and in serious need of theological groundwork. But instead of quickly labeling young musicians or bands as heretics, he believes that Christians who are spiritually mature should reach out to them.
His main worry, though, is for people who often dismiss "emotionalism" in worship. He believes that these individuals are forfeiting their chances of seeing or experiencing what is known as a revival.
"Could it be that the very thing we need (and that Hillsong, Bethel, and Elevation need) is the very thing we are running from, which is a revival and a powerful move of God's Spirit via brokenness, humility, and repentance?" he posits.
But, knowing that many in conservative theological groups would undoubtedly disagree, Idleman offered the examples of George Whitefield and Jonathan Edwards, two early reformers who are held in high esteem in conservative circles.
Idleman asserts that what could be considered "oddities" today have happened under the preaching of these ministers of God. Thus, he is concerned about those who often criticize "oddities" in worship, since they may be unintentionally disparaging a "genuine move of God's Spirit."