Thursday, May 8, 2014

The American Church's Absence of Lament - Soong-Chan Rah in Emerging Voices

For American evangelicals riding the fumes of a previous generation’s Christendom assumptions, a triumphalist theology of celebration and privilege rooted in a praise-only narrative is perpetuated by the absence of lament and the underlying narrative of pain, suffering and injustice that informs lament.

When we consider the typical church worship service in the United States, we discover certain trends. Lament and stories of suffering are conspicuously absent.

In Hurting with God, Glenn Pemberton notes that laments constitute 40% of the Psalms.  Christian Copyright Licensing International (CCLI) licenses local churches for the use of contemporary worship songs. CCLI tracks the songs that are employed by local churches, and its list of the top 100 worship songs as of August 2012 reveals that only five of the songs would qualify as a lament.

How we worship reveals what we prioritize. The American church avoids lament. Consequently the underlying narrative of suffering that requires lament is lost in lieu of a triumphalistic, victorious narrative. We forget the necessity of lament over suffering and pain.

Lament acknowledges the pain and suffering that has led to current injustices. Lament challenges the status quo of injustice. American Christians that flourish under the existing system seek to maintain the status quo and avoid lament.

Self-absorbed Christians who are apathetic towards injustice don't suddenly appear by happenstance. 

For American evangelicals riding the fumes of a previous generation’s Christendom assumptions, a triumphalist theology of celebration and privilege rooted in a praise-only narrative is perpetuated by the absence of lament and the underlying narrative of pain, suffering and injustice that informs lament.

The full article is available here