Carrie Underwood Does Church Better: Visit to another Non-denom

All the markings are there: the Untuckit shirt, the ironed jeans, save for no high-dollar, colored tennis shoes. He wore boots. Fitting for Bryan, Texas. But of all the churches out there who fly the colors of not being sure what they do and don’t believe, why choose this one?

The senior pastor of LifeChurch is a 1991 grad of Concordia, Austin. The website says, “He qualified for minors in English and Religious Studies.” He surely did minor in the latter. He “earned” a Masters in Biblical Studies from Newburgh Seminary. Its website says, “We are an online/correspondence school. Our students work on their degree programs at home”  ( I’m surprised he only got a Masters. Newburgh also awards D. Min., Ph. D., and Th. D. Hey, go big or go home.

Now I’m just being mean. No, I’m being accurate. There was 20 people to begin with – this was January 3, 2021 during yet another Covid surge. Thirteen of them were mothers with small children. They were there for the standard, evangelical, non-demon, “opening act” of two or three emotive, easy-listening songs. Not many men there. After the opening act, the women with their kids left for Children’s “Church” and then couples ages 30s to 50s stayed. The wife and I being the only ones past the 50’s…just by a smidgen

Like the Pentecostals, preaching, melded with praying, melded with praising. I’m reminded of the U.S. Senate passing a resolution that a chaplain of the Senate would cease, under the guise of prayer to God, to lecture the Senators.

When present, his theology was all over the  place. Interestingly, he not only had the Medieval doctrine of justification: If you do you’re part, God will do his, but he had the theology of the Melanchthon’s Altered Augustana. “We can’t move toward God, but we can soften our heart and will,” said the theologian with the degree from a diploma mill. (I mean Newburgh not Concordia. Or do I? See the appropriate meme HERE.)

As with most of the Evangelical clergyman I’ve heard preach, he had that self-deprecating arrogance that draws you to him the way Paul warns you about in Galatians 4:17, “Those people are eager to win you over, but not in a good way. Rather, they want to alienate you, so that you will be eager for them” (EHV).

This is the first Evangelical church I’ve been too where the Gospel was not preached . There was a comment about the Word being made flesh and one about sins requiring a sacrifice, but I heard more Gospel being preached on the radio by a Baptist preacher from Madisonville in 10 minutes than I heard in 60 minutes of “worship” at LifeChurch. The Sacraments were not administered, referenced, or alluded to at all let alone according to Christ’s institution. This is why Carrie Underwood does church better.

Her 2009 song “Jesus Take the Wheel” seemed to be the template for the service. Like Islam submitting to the Divine, the Almighty, to God is a sine qua non emphasis of all forms of Reformed Worship – Calvinism, Evangelicalism (Arminianism), Pentecostalism, and Non-denominational-ism. Underwood, however, surrenders specifically to Jesus. But notice the song makes a distinction between the sudden exclamation of “Jesus Take the Wheel” and prayer? It says, after her cry, “And for the first time in a long time/ She bowed her head to pray”. Luther didn’t make this distinction. He said that when overtaken by sudden danger make the sign of the cross and say, “Lord have mercy,” and know that you’ve prayed sufficiently.

This goes with another Luther also saying. Contrary to the Rabbinic saying, “Prolix prayer protracts life”, Luther said the fewer the words the better the prayer. LifeChurch is long in prayer and short, even shorter than Underwood, in theology.

About Paul Harris

Pastor Harris retired from congregational ministry after 40 years in office on 31 December 2023. He is now devoting himself to being a husband, father, and grandfather. He still thinks cenobitic monasticism is overrated and cave dwelling under.
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