Faithful Worship

I recently finished reading for the second time The Great Giveaway by David Fitch.  In a chapter on worship, the author argues for more of what he calls “immersive worship” which is “the coalescence of language, music, art, ritual, and symbol enable the faithful to participate in the truth, thereby enabling the worshiper to fully experience it and know it as truth” (p. 113).

Does this mean then that our experience in worship should define what is true worship?  Hardly so, says the author.  Rather, he says that:

Simply put, faithful worship reveals itself in the shape of the lives it produces.  Immersive worship does not deny that robust emotions often coincide with the faithful worship of God, but we will know the faithfulness of those emotions from the quality of our life together (p. 115).

In other words, the true test of our worship will not be how amazing the singing was, how encouraging or challenging the preaching was, how incredible of a video was shown, and so forth.  Rather, questions that will reveal the faithfulness of our worship might be questions like…

  • Will our worship result in us loving God more love our neighbors more?
  • Will our worship result in us becoming more present as the body of Christ among our local neighborhoods?
  • Will our worship spur us to greater witness of the gospel among our non-Christian friends and neighbors?
  • Will our worship deepen our desire and commitment to holy and righteous living?

Seemingly then, how these questions are answered will either validate our worship as faithful or condemn it as vain.

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2 responses to “Faithful Worship

  1. some would also add ‘olfactory’ because Malachi tells us that incense will be offered in the worship of the New Covenant; and why not throw in ‘architectural’ inasmuch as the Old used it, as a type and shadow, and now we can use it too as very image of the heavenly.
    Symbol-? Types and shadows and symbols were given in the Law through Moses, some would suggest, whereas grace and truth came through Jesus, leaving symbols behind in the dust. But icons, ah yes, and sacraments….those come to us through Jesus, as very presentations and re-presentations of the Eternal!, and flow out of the Incarnation, and from the very Tree of Life on cavalry. And Communion- nothing inherently emotional there, but it is the consummate conveyor of Life (unless you Eat and Drink you shall not have life within you) .
    I grow more and more appreciative of the tradition in Eastern Orthodoxy of having a presentation at every Liturgy of the lives of the Saints- we see those who do Church from the heart, wind up being, not just good people, though good they are, but are become God. Following the dictum of St. Irenaeus and others “God became a man that man might become God.” Not Gods according to Nature but according to Grace; becoming uncreated by grace. The Western view of our salvation tends to emphasize our perfected Humanity; the Eastern tends to emphasize our Divinized humanity, transcending the human-Theosis, hence the ascetic ideal in the New Testament, and the language of Union. You see that in art- canonical Orthodox icons de-emphasize the temporal and the sensual- man going beyond passion and ego; where as on the Sistine Chapel- hyper-masculine muscled figures and so forth. So, yes, art…..if its conception of salvation is Scriptural but not if it falls short, and That is a real challenge….. and music, but as you see in the history of Chrstian music in the West, the robust usage of the Psalms, commanded in Scripture, was destroyed by a series of incremental musical elaborations- first metrical Psalms, changed the wording; then the Psalms were further truncated into hymns and lost more of their content, and then hymns in the revival mode were introduced talking about our experience and moving us away from Scripture. Yes, all thosse thing, but be very Amish, in the application of ‘new’ in the Old, because the medium, as Marshall McLuhan said, is often the message, and how we pray conveys what we believe or disbelieve- lex orandi, lex credendi, and what you convert them with is what you convert them too. Do we want to convert a buncha media, noise, activity addicted people to more noise, and activity without the Shalom of God, the Shabbat of God, the Peace/Union/Stillness of God being at the core of their hearts? God have mercy on us as we seek to know Him who is Unknowable.

  2. Immersive worship- as I mull over this more I ask myself, how do we avoid Judaizing, as Paul warned us in Scripture, avoid Juadaizing in our worship? By regarding the Implication of the Incarnation in worship which is Sacrament, and Icon. If the sensory, created things we include in worship are not Sacrament and/or icon, then we wind up with worship that is Nestorian or Judaized- Nestorian for it posits a worship on earth that is not the very Image of the heavenly, or Judaized, if it posits a worship that is symbolic but not the very presentation of the heavenly and eternal to our assemblies. Just as the idea of a Vicar of Christ- a Pope in the Roman mode is an expression of Nestorian ecclesiology, so also worship that is emotive, evocative to thought and sense and emotion that is not also icon or sacrament is a Vicar of Christian worship, and as Christians are right to judge the papal Vicarate of the Bishop of Rome, so we should also be careful to do the same with the worship. We must affirm the Incarnation in our worship and we must steer far away from ideas and practices of worship which are Nestorian, and hence, make us- idolaters. Lord have mercy on me a sinner, who repents of idolatry daily and finds it demanding the greatest of graces which I do not possess to avoid.

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