Tyrannical Sentamentalism

08 Mar

Sentimentality is subtle. C.S. Lewis once told a young writer: “Instead of telling us a thing is ‘terrible,’ describe it so that we’ll be terrified. Don’t say it was a ‘delight,’ make us say ‘delightful’ when we’ve read the description. You see, all those words (‘horrifying,’ ‘wonderful,’ ‘hideous,’ ‘exquisite’) are only saying to your readers, ‘Please will you do my job for me.’” Lewis complains that authors of gushy and sentimental words are tyrannical because they tell the readers they must feel rather than letting the subject work on them in the same way it did the author. Sentimental worship leading works in exactly the same way that Lewis describes. With typical comments—“Isn’t he just wonderful?” “Isn’t it such a blessing?”—the leader tells people how they ought to feel about God instead of telling them about God.[1]

[1] Timothy J. Keller, “Reformed Worship in the Global City” in D.A., Carson, ed., Worship By the Book (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000), 211 quoting W.H. Lewis ed., Letters of C.S. Lewis (New York: Harcourt, Brace, and World, 1966), 271.


Posted by on March 8, 2006 in quotes


2 responses to “Tyrannical Sentamentalism

  1. corey thomas

    March 16, 2006 at 8:54 pm

    Hi Josh, unrelated comment… I posted some song lyrics like you asked. have a read and give me some feedback. I have a few new posts if you haven’t been over in a while. looking forward to hearing from you. Blessings.

  2. Dave

    March 17, 2006 at 6:45 pm

    dude, this quote is ROCK SOLID and SPOT ON. this is the essence of christian hedonism and is the heartbeat of preaching. tim keller strikes again!


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