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Gamaliel's Desk
Friday, October 11, 2002
Clap Trap Christianity
There is a poisonous practice common in non-Pharisee churches that is beginning to infect our congregations. Our greatest fear is that doctrinal error will somehow creep into our assemblies but even more insidious are worldly customs that have no place in our houses of worship. Many of you know where I’m going with this because we have discussed this often and that is the practice of clapping in church.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not against other churches including applause in their assemblies. If they want to be in error and mimic the world with their behavior, that is fine with me. I am certainly not one to criticize other denominations for not being like Pharisees. That is between them and God alone. But when I see Pharisee churches starting to imitate false churches, then I have reason to be concerned.

First of all, clapping in the Bible is a sign of shame and derision. Lamentations 2:15 says, “All that pass by clap their hands at thee; they hiss and wag their head at the daughter of Jerusalem, saying, Is this the city that men call The perfection of beauty, The joy of the whole earth?” This is a clear indication of shame. By extension, any church that allows clapping should be ashamed.

Second, clapping applauds the performer or even the performance but certainly not God. Concerts and athletic events are places to praise men. When I give speeches outside the church, I expect applause because I have worked hard on what I am saying and deserve the recognition for my accomplishments. When I preach in church, even if I did work as hard on the sermon as I do a secular speech, I would not want applause because all the glory goes to God. I am just His Chosen vessel.

Finally, applause is a sign of enthusiasm. Enthusiasm has no place in the church. Worship services are to be solemn assemblies filled with awe and reverence. One cannot enthusiastically worship and magnify the name of our great God in an atmosphere that is more like a concert than a funeral. After all, the saving of the lost and the maintenance of doctrinal purity is too serious a matter to take lightly. Our job is not to make people comfortable in church but to afflict their souls with the preaching of sin, sanctification and spirituality. Anything less is an affront to the name of Pharisee.


Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy. How awesome is the Lord Most High, the great King over all the earth!
Psalm 47:1-2 (NIV)

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