I promised in my last article to write about the apparent short comings on the ‘Baptist Confession of Faith’s’ section on worship, however, the more I have been looking at it and comparing it to other creeds I feel that I would be making a mountain out of a mole hill. The real issue still lies in other places…
I think that a tradition, whether it is 500, 100 or 10 years old, suffers from the same problem; We start with Scripture, but eventually put our final authority in our own traditions or views. This may be one of the reasons why we have such a hard time figuring out what God wants us to do when we worship.
Every generation of the church is responsible to weigh its tradition and practice against the final authority of God’s word, and to be honest God has not been as specific in this area as some might prefer. The bible doesn’t give an order of service that applies to all cultures at all times. Similarly the Bible commands us to respect one another, but in African culture respect is shown by not looking someone in the eye when talking, in European culture, one should maintain a degree of eye contact, so just as the way respect is shown varies in those two cultures, it will also vary in the way worship is preformed. For example the Old Testament is full of choirs, musicians, processions, priests, robes, annual celebrations and instrument praise; but how relevant are these things since the New Testament doesn’t even mention them? Should we come before God with singing, dancing and instruments like Psalm 149? Or are those things now forbidden in the New Testament command to worship God ‘with reverence and awe’ (Hebrews 12:28)?
I find so ironic, that some of my own reformed brothers would use the ‘regulative principle’ to forbid instruments in Church along with hymns and spiritual songs… and then only sing unaccompanied Psalms which constantly mentions instruments, dancing and the like? AT the same time my Charismatic friends would sing about the holiness of God and His majesty, and then treat worship in a cavalier, superficial and sentimentalist way.
Some Christians think God has said nothing about worship, but the need for me to refute this thinking is useless now since if anyone has read the bible in even a superficial way they will see the folly of this thinking (I pray). God hasn’t told us everything, but He certainly hasn’t been silent on the topic.
PRINCIPLES FOR FORM
I would like to at this point suggest the guiding principles for how the ‘form’ of worship should be decided upon and evaluated. (It is helpful at this point to have read my article on the varies parts of worship). What principles guide, not the ‘elements’ or ‘circumstances’ of worship, but the ‘form’?
- Do what God clearly commands (regulative principle without the exclusivity part)
- Don’t do what God clearly forbids (Normative principle)
- Use SCRIPTURAL wisdom for everything else
We need to recognize that God has not given us a prescribed order of service that defines biblical worship. However we must seek to faithfully apply biblical principles and examples.
Furthermore, we must grasp the vital role that faith plays in corporate worship. Thus we never want ‘our way’ of doing things to replace vibrant real trust in the finished work of Christ to make our worship acceptable.
The next few blogs will be on how I think these principles should be applied in around 9 different tensions (I hope to make these blogs on worship more regular than once a week as we climb to the crescendo now). I also intent of shortly releasing a questionnaire that I trust will cause us to evaluate if indeed we are applying certain principles in our church.
For the growth and maturity of the Church as we all strive for the unity of the faith.