NT Wright wants to save the best cult songs

NOT. T. Wright wants to see today’s media-saturated church shaped again by a form of worship and prayer that has shaped God’s people for centuries. In The case of the psalms: why they are essential (HarperOne) the clergyman and biblical scholar calls our casual neglect of the Psalter a crisis in contemporary Christianity. Andrew Byers, Chaplain at St. Mary’s College, Durham University, spoke with Wright about aligning our values, our theology and our perception of reality with the songs, poems and prayers that have saturated hearts and the spirits of Jesus and Paul.

Why would anyone need to make a “Psalms case”?

During my lifetime, I have seen churches that sang the Psalms in their weekly worship stop doing so and often substitute modern worship songs. There is nothing wrong with modern worship songs. But I have seen the Psalms being a little neglected and then completely ignored. At the same time, many churches that keep the Psalms are using them in ways that do not do justice to their richness and depth.

Why is this discolored meaning so problematic?

The Psalter is the prayer book that Jesus made his own. We can see in the gospels and in the early church that Jesus and his early disciples were steeped in the Psalms, using them to express how they understood what God was doing. For us, moving away from the Psalms inevitably means moving away from Jesus.

The Psalms contain unique poetry expressing biblical faith in God as Creator, Redeemer, judge, lover, friend, adversary – all. There is nothing like them. The Psalms go deep into human emotions – they don’t just skate along the top. They explore what the great promises of God mean and what we do when those promises …

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