November 25, 2020

Evangelical Worship Comes Full Circle (Irony Alert!)

worship_hands.jpgUPDATE II: Some of you probably haven’t read some of my older essays on worship, found in the “Worship” section on the older essays page.

UPDATE: After having written many posts on evangelical worship and reading hundreds of other posts and comments, it’s no wonder anyone who attends a liturgical church five times in a row concludes evangelicals are so confused on this subject there’s almost no hope for us. What a mess.

It occurred to me today that we’ve come full circle.

When I was a teenager, the Charismatic movement was just getting some traction. Raising hands, emotional expression in worship, Pentecostal expressions….these were all new in many churches that were used to nothing more than the “frozen chosen” type of rationalistic worship.

What did this mean? It meant that if you saw someone with their hands in the air, for example, you could be certain of their sincerity in worship. Here was a person rejecting the dead, expressionless type of worship that was common in Protestantism in favor of the genuine worship responses of the Charismatics. Here was judgment on the typical Baptist complaint that Catholics were just going through the motions. We had simply eliminated the motions altogether. Now, in the Charismatic style, the Spirit was bringing true worship back to the church.

So whether it was a fundamentalist “amen” corner or a Charismatic brother or sister standing, eyes closed, hands in the air, you knew it was “real.” Genuine. Authentic. The Holy Spirit.

Fast forward thirty years.

It’s a typical “praise and worship” service for high school and college kids. The band is on stage. Drums. Guitars. Keyboards. Vocalists. Projection. Lights. The whole event.

As the band warms up, a student puts his hands in the air and begins to sway. Before long, a group of students are all swaying their bodies and their hands. Later on, in the “Praise and Worship” service itself, many students are moving. Some are practically dancing. Others are bouncing up and down. The worship expressions are far more varied and free than the occasional Charismatic expression back in my high school days. There is lots of clapping, and some students are engaging in hand motions to the lyrics. Others are moving their heads and shoulders in a kind of  break dancing” motion.

If someone from the seventies were to drop in via time machine, I think they would be amazed at this scene, especially if they saw it in a church setting. Charismatic experience seems to have taken over.

Uhhhh…. just a moment. Not so fast.

Having been around these students, I can tell you without doubt that the vast majority who are responding to the music are not engaged in any kind of conscious worship. They are not honoring God or his Son. They are simply having a good time. They like the music. They have been socialized into what is acceptable in these settings, and they enjoy moving to the music with their friends. It is, for most of them, simply an exercise in self-expression, and not anything approaching worship.

In fact, if a Roman Catholic friend were to want to say these people were just “going through the motions,” I would completely agree. It would be a valid criticism. If someone were to ask me to differentiate between what is happening here, and what would be happening if a secular concert were happening, I’d not be able to give a very clear answer. In the case of most of those present, the response is, at every level, the same.

If you want to see genuine worshipers, I’m not sure your local evangelical “praise and worship” service is necessarily the right place to go. Maybe….maybe you might want to stop in that 8 a.m. mass over at St. William’s.


  1. Just remember this simple guide: making the sign of the cross is the empty ritual of a bankrupt spiritual system, whereas raising your hands in the air during a worship chorus is the work of the Spirit. Hmmm…

    Seriously, I think part of the problem arises from a “ladder” mentality in worship. This is the view that worship is about what we do, a means by which we ascend to God (or to some “spiritual” state) by means of our “worship”. This mentality is found, in radically different outward forms, in both Protestant and Catholic circles.

    But Luther had a different perspective on this, that I think is very helpful. He saw worship as principally being concerned with what God does, not what we do. Worship isn’t about our actions or state of mind, it is about God drawing near to us in the promises of the gospel. In Luther’s terminology, it is “beneficium” not “sacrificium”: the gift of a God who, in Luther’s words “gives but does not take”.

    This isn’t about saying “y’all should worship like Lutherans”, or that modern worship choruses are evil, or whatever. It’s just I suspect that there is a vast, unmined seam of Christian wisdom in that insight of Luther’s. I find myself wondering what would happen to worship in the church if we focused not on “what songs should we sing?” or “what instruments should we use?” or “should we raise our hands?”, but instead on reorientating our whole perspective of worship from one of “sacrificium”, our work, to “beneficium”, God’s work.

    (For more on “beneficium” vs “sacrificium”, see this post on my blog.)

  2. David Reimer says

    IM wrote: “As the band warms up, a student puts his hands in the air and begins to sway.”

    I was in Glasgow for a “Gig on the Green” day a couple years or so back. The final three acts were Queens of the Stone Age, Foo Fighters, and Red Hot Chili Peppers.

    It taught me real quick that the gestures described above really are “worship” … but who knows what the object of that worship might be? The true and living God? Sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll? Hard to tell….

    David Reimer

  3. hmmm… I’m not sure I would agree with you here. I would be careful to judge genuine worship by exterior observations of style.


  4. On Father’s Day in 2001 my wife and I visited the church where my in-laws were attending. To this day I’m not sure what their denominational affiliation was, but it is some sort of pentecostal/charismatic in which the pastor’s wife prophesied over several people. (Keep in mind, my wife and I were still members of an AG church at the time, so we’ve seen some weird stuff, but this church we visited was really REALLY weird). I remember my mother-in-law commenting on how wonderful it was that people could be so free in worship there (lots of body movement, hands, dancing, lengthy choruses, etc.).

    Actually, we felt strangely NOT FREE to worship in a non-showy way.

    I think in some churches, it’s pretty much a requirement to be ‘showy’ while singing– otherwise you’re not worshipping. I even recall the pastor at our former AG church give a sermon on Romans 12:1 (without 12:2) and used it to argue that “physical response during worship” equates with “spiritual worship”. Even back then I knew that that passage was taken *completely* out of context.

  5. Hey Dude — what if you’re not really seeing it in either place? What is both spirit and truth are necessary for true worship?

    I think it is possible -both- to enjoy worship -and- to actually worship. The question is only -how- to do such a thing.

    Let’s throw a real bomb out here: I’ll bet Steve Camp actually is doing worship and enjoying worship when he is employing his gifts during the gathering of the assembly. Same with the guy from Sovereign Grace — Bob Kauflin. Actual worship.

    Do you have to be a worship -leader- to be like that, or can you be led in worship and also enjoy it?

  6. Oh yeah — and do you have to be singing?

  7. I find it ironic that the praise band types usually have as much animus towards hymns as the mainline did towards them back in the 70’s. The shoe is on the other foot now.

    One point – I find that using the word ‘charismatic’ about rock n roll services is misleading. Usually in our day people describe pop music services such as the one you mention as ‘charismatic.’ But I think this is a wrong use of the term. Certainly this style of music had it’s origin in the charismatic movement, but nowadays you often don’t see any type of charismata in many churches that nevertheless use that kind of music. In other words you could be at a Nazarene church that uses modern music, has hands in the air, etc. but you would never hear people speaking in tongues, prophesying, healing, and so forth. It is our default to call such musical services ‘charismatic’ but they really aren’t in many cases.

  8. Frank: I genuinely appreciate what the Sovereign Grace folks are doing, and have always felt the wedding of worship form and content in Reformation Christianity leans towards genuine charasmatic expressions.

    I was also blest in my early years to be around Episcopalian friends who were Charismatic, and they taught me that worship with form and worship with joyful expression are possible.

    I’m just struck with what I see happening with the young people at our school who are NOT Christians. They have no problem “participating” in what most people call worship these days, thanks to a de-emphasis on Gospel content.

    To anyone reading: I’m not dogging Praise Bands. I oversee two of them.

  9. re: Joel’s comment above…

    I’m a (not currently active) church drummer who attends the “traditional” service at my SBC rather than the contemporary. From my experience most contemporary music folks seem to think that you can’t “truly worship” if you’re singing hymns (especially people from my old AG church). Oddly enough, the band that plays in our contemporary service is actually better than the one I used to play with, but I get frustrated with the superficial lyrical content of many of the songs they sing now.

    Speaking of other backward things, I think our “traditional” SBC service is actually just a contemporary service with traditional music, whereas when I went to my Grandfather’s funeral last month (Roman Catholic), the service was traditional but included some contemporary music as well as some hymns (they even had songbooks that were FULL of Hosanna/Integrity stuff–the good and the bad).

  10. Nicholas Anton says

    How fickle the human soul has become, when the great Truths of God, both as to His Excellent Character, His Almighty Power and Glory, His Omniscient Mind, His Omnipresence, His Sovereign Majesty and His Abundant Mercy bestowed on us by Grace through the Death of His Son Jesus Christ, do nothing for us until fettered by the art and music of a depraved and sensuous society.

  11. Christian M. says

    I’m going to disagree with you, Michael. I’m 50 something, with a 40+ year Bible church pedigree and a conservative evangelical seminary degree. I am not charismatic. However, I now attend a charismatic super-megachurch, with a worship team band that sells lots of records. It is everything you describe, except I believe there is true worship happening. I am free to move or not move, sing or not sing, stand or sit, raise my hands or not, but I am never free to ignore the encouragement to reflect on God or respond to God.

    Yes, the youth are probably being more physical than spiritual at times, but as they are they are hearing and singing words of worship and praise. And when there is a hymn (which is often), it is done with all the same energy and passion as the “praise and worship” music. Perhaps it’s more at times about the experience of worship than it is about the object of worship, but that is the same criticism that was laid at the feet of many hymns with organ music, too.

    Personally, I believe worship is not about making individuals “feel” worshipful, but about providing the environment for a body of believers to make a corporate offering of confession, thanks and praise to God. However, even though I recognize the evangelical church has lost that corporate identity in this generation of individuality, nonetheless I greatly enjoy the energy of the youth in our church who “worship” very actively and passionately. Their freedom gives me greater freedom to respond to God in worship. That freedom is a good and necessary development.

    Do I think the church has generally abandoned or diminished other important worship elements in favor of music–the eucharist, confession, public reading of Scripture, and public prayer? Yes, I do, and I pray this generation will recover those at some point. But none of that prevents me from worshiping God on Sunday morning. Do I enjoy a good Anglican worship service? Yes, by all means, and long for it at times, and yet that is not the current spirit of worship in evangelicalism. Can I worship God with this “new song” of a new generation? Yes, if I respond to it in “spirit and truth.” It’s not just about whether my church gets it all “right,” but also about whether or not I’m right with God.

    There have always been extremes in the musical side of worship. When I read some hymnbooks from the 19th century, I laugh out loud at some of the shallow, inane, and ridiculous songs that defined “worship” then, but the good ones survived. It’s the same today. There are extremes, but the good ones will survive and will define worship for this generation. The Spirit of God is creating a “new song” right now, and whether or not it’s what I like, I don’t want to be guilty of calling the Spirit’s work a work of the flesh. I’m listening for God’s voice.

    I do agree with many of your thoughts, but I think we need to be careful in our judgment and criticism. I see much spiritual fruit coming from the youth of my church, and it is often closely tied to the worship ministry. Rather than judge it, which I easily could do, I’ve decided to enter into it and look for God in it, even if just for a time.

  12. Are you talking about third century chant Nicholas? Please tell me what are and music did not come from a depraved and sensuous society.

  13. Christian M:

    I appreciate what you are saying, but I’m puzzled.

    I’m not denouncing contemporary music.

    I’m not saying no one is worshiping to it.

    I’m not “judging” when I observe the behavior of students I know are not Christians. These are kids I live and work with full time. I’m not a music curmudgeon who assumes that students having a good time are all evil. Far from it.

    But the fact remains: the expressive and participatory worship approach has now combined with the cultural/evangelical idolatry of entertainment, and a row full of students shaking their hips at a song- at least in my setting- are likely to be doing that and no more.

    I have a long post on what I’ve learned about worship from leading students in daily chapel for 15 years. It might get me fired so I’ve not posted it, but maybe I need to. In short: Contemporary music does not spiritually “touch” students as claimed. It often seems to do the opposite. Traditional music- surprisingly- seems to be at least as effective, if not more, when it comes to engaging the mind and creating a focused worship experience.

    Thanks for your input. Appreciated.


  14. Do we over emphasize “worship” in a church service? Yes, we must gather and worship God together through Word and sacrament and even music (seems like “sacrament” is missing in some places). But is worship just about music and the band? I think not.

    Michael, you encouraged us some time ago to read “Chasing Francis” by Ian Morgan Cron. It seems to me that much of the worship of Francis was seen in his actions outside a church worship service. His worship was in service to others.

    My concern is that many of us “come to worship,” swing and sway, raise our hands, sing with loud voice, jump up and down and then leave – end of story. This is where it stops. It seems to me that our worship should spill out into the streets.

  15. Of course, Francis moved in the world of Catholicism, with the Eucharist at the center and an entire sacramental worldview, esp in regard to nature.

    Evangelicalism has sold itself to the culture’s idolatry of entertainment, and in most cases is not articulating a theology of the arts that produces anything distinctive. Look what happens when we do: Taize, Indelible Grace, etc. It can be beautiful. Or it can be the Big Show.

  16. Nicholas Anton says

    Joel W

    re: “…the great Truths of God, … do nothing for us until fettered by the art and music of a depraved and sensuous society.”
    First, what I was saying is that most of the emotion and applause in contemporary and even traditional praise and worship has little to do with the words and concepts, but rather with the hypnotic rhythm, beet, music, intensity of sound and the corresponding mass hysteria. People tend in a round-about way to say, “I can’t worship and praise until I have the right (which is personal) atmosphere”. If that be the case, this is not True Worship and Praise.

    Second, while there was some influence from secular, pagan tribe and nation traditions in early church music, to a large degree it was not based on them, but rather on the Old Testament Temple tradition. Though the Ambrosian tradition borrowed more extensively from the secular tradition than the Gregorian, both had largely been weaned from their pagan concepts and practices.

    Third, the Greek or Eastern, which included the Hebrew, music tradition was significantly different from both the African and the Western tradition. The rhythm of Eastern music was largely that of prose, and fit well into basic Christian concepts. Western (not cowboy) music tended to have rhyme and rhythm, and hence had meters/bars. (That is why Martin Luther used “bar” [metrical demarcation lines] music [not pub music] )

    Fourthly, the Reformation embodied in it a shift from the Eastern (Chant) to a combination of the Eastern and Western Traditions, of which the three building blocks were melody, rhythm and harmony. The polyphonic music of Vivaldi, Handel, Bach, Purcell, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, etc would have been impossible without the amalgam of the two traditions.

    By the middle of the twentieth century, there was developing, together with the acceptance of the Afro-Americans into Western society, a fascination for their culture and lifestyle, which included a fascination for their emotional and physical abandonment in their lifestyle, entertainment, music and worship, which, like Western expressionism, emphasizes the display of all human emotions in their raw form; however, unlike Western expressionism (the art and music culmination of modernism), it is popular rather than elitist, and uninhibitedly emotionally derived (experiential), rather than intellectually connived (product of the mind). It is the flip side of secular modernism. The initiation of this tradition in the Western world was the Hippy movement.

    The contemporary church tradition is in a sense a direct outgrowth of the Hippy revolt, and exemplifies it’s ideals, which among other things include “lust”, “anger”, “sensuality”, “rebellion”, “personal freedom and expression”, “body and soul”, “sex” etc. It is “narcotic” and “mystical” in character. Even though Christians frequently deny the above, the secular media admits it to be true. (By the way, what is the difference between narcotic induced worship and praise and music and art induced worship and praise?) How then can the Christian church be a part of it?

  17. I am a worship leader who borrows heavily from the RUF Hymnbook, a doctrinally deep resource with singable tunes. I realize, though, that even with that sort of depth in the music part of worship, people (including me) can totally miss worship. On the other hand, one can meet God while singing “Light the Fire in My Heart Again.”

    My point is that even though there are definitely more God-honoring ways to do music, worshipers WILL worship. Sheep like sheep food, as my pastor says. I heard Mark Dever say about preaching (not an exact quote): “Boring sermon, my fault; you not getting anything out of it, your fault.”

    Bad worship planning at my church, my fault. You not worshiping, your fault.

  18. John H.,

    You hit the big BINGO. And it speaks to every single aspect of worship from Word to Sacraments, to song. The most marked difference in Christian worship, if it is true, Lutheran or otherwise (though not many ‘otherwises’ are out there in this day and age), it the movement of the worship from heaven to us Vs. us to heaven (so we think). ALL pagan worship attempts to “worship” god in the direction from earth to heaven. Until so called American “Protestantism” gets this, they will continue to miss true worship altogether and find it all vain and empty, be it charismatic groups or so called “sovereign grace” groups. Because they don’t know where God is FOR THEM, so everything around “worship” is designed to move from earth to heaven to “move God”, mount Carmel is a study in this contrast of earth to heaven Vs. heaven to earth worship.

    Years ago long before I read a word on Luther that’s what jumped out at me in Stephen’s Acts sermon that got him the reward of being stoned to death was this very issue. What was stunning to me is that Stephen actually speaks of things like the Temple that God said to build as being the wrongly used instrument (earth to heaven Vs. heave to earth or what God does for us, no vice versa). “Have not My hands made all these things…what kind of house will you build for ME says the Lord…heaven is My throne and the earth is My foot stool.” Stunning because He speaks of the temple He commanded to be built. This reversal of the movement of worship BY Israel USING Biblical means was a condemnation in Stephen’s sermon. Did they thank him for clearing this up? No, they gnashed their teeth and picked up stones to stone him with. Stunning!

    This is a constant danger even in the church post first advent, this reversal. It lay at the HEART of the issue of the RCC mass not to mention other uses of the sacraments. This reversal finds itself in both service of the Word when the Gospel is buried, hidden, overthrown, marginalized, assumed; and in the sacraments when they become something from us rather than the work of God through them. It affects music. The issue is NEVER instruments, it’s the message in the hymn. Is it Jesus FOR YOU, or “what a I’m a gonna do for Jesus”.

    A constant test I tell a brother/pastor friend of mine is this, in the Word, Sacrament, music what is communicated – would it stand the test of the trial of your final hours/moments of death? If not its false and Satanic at the end of the day. This lay at the ROOT of Joel Osteen, Rick Warren and even legalist strains arising in reaction to these in some so called “Calvinistic” circles or so called “sovereign grace” circles. The lack of assurance in these groups is telling. When you lay dying, wracked with cancer or other disease, injury knowing your last moments/hours on earth and the devil and conscience is accusing you, what message will bear you up under such a fiery trial? Will Olsteen’s poisonous, “Hey friend it’s your best life anyway” do it? Will Warren’s demonic mantra, “You need a purpose driven life” do it? Will looking back on a sacrament that wasn’t FOR YOU when you need it do it? What would these deceivers had said to the thief on the cross beside Jesus have said to him who had nothing but empty hands, in fact was being executed for open sin? If a message from the pulpit (Word) doesn’t GIVE you Christ FOR YOU, flee that church with all due speed. If the sacraments depend upon YOU flee! If the music is all about “what I’m a gonna do” race away and have NO shame whatsoever doing so. There is NO shame fleeing away from this and to the Gospel.


    Larry KY

  19. Nicholas, I’d refer you to this debate:

    “By what objective biblical standard does one evaluate musicality? Please identify (the apparently monolithic) “established musical heritage of the Church” referenced. Which church: Western, Eastern, Coptic, Black? Identify the “established” musical components: even-tempered tuning, plain song, counterpoint, polyphony, amplification, hymnody? Just where is the developmental “cut-off”: Donatus, Novatian, Gregory, 1517, Bach, Wesley, Miles Davis? And, what is it about contemporary musicality that is “trite and superficial” and irreverent: the lyrics, the tempi, the tessitura, the harmony, the instrumentation? More problematic is Mr. Wilson’s implied standard, the “back to the future” hermeneutic, which assumes that the apex of musical development is static and has already passed. Better that the scripture provide guidance than a personal preference masquerading as a precept: “Say not, `Why were the former days better than these?’” (Eccel. 7:10, ESV)”

  20. Nicholas Anton,

    “First, what I was saying is that most of the emotion and applause in contemporary and even traditional praise and worship has little to do with the words and concepts, but rather with the hypnotic rhythm, beet, music, intensity of sound and the corresponding mass hysteria. People tend in a round-about way to say, “I can’t worship and praise until I have the right (which is personal) atmosphere”. If that be the case, this is not True Worship and Praise.”

    This is a jaundiced view. ANY form of music can do what you say. Pagans eat up gregorian chant. That CD that come out a while ago – CHANT – do you think that was so wildly popular because biblical christians bought it?

    “By the middle of the twentieth century, there was developing, together with the acceptance of the Afro-Americans into Western society, a fascination for their culture and lifestyle, which included a fascination for their emotional and physical abandonment in their lifestyle, entertainment, music and worship…the display of all human emotions in their raw form;…The initiation of this tradition in the Western world was the Hippy movement.”

    So I guess the wild, african-like King David, so physically abandoned in his dance and worship, threw of his clothes because some of his homies were rappin’ in the streets.

    “The contemporary church tradition is in a sense a direct outgrowth of the Hippy revolt, and exemplifies it’s ideals, which among other things include “lust”, “anger”, “sensuality”, “rebellion”, “personal freedom and expression”, “body and soul”, “sex” etc. It is “narcotic” and “mystical” in character.”

    In other words, we should only play the gregorian chant of the monks, because their ascetism was based on the utter unworthiness of the body and all things sensual, and so as practical buddhists we should not allow the physical into our worship but rather should say “ohmmmmmmm” while the African-inspired charismatics/evangelicals engage in lascivious sensuality as they worship.

  21. Nicholas Anton says

    I clearly had stated what you suggested; “ANY form of music can do what you say”. Please note! I said, “…most of the emotion and applause in contemporary AND EVEN TRADITIONAL PRAISE AND WORSHIP has little to do with the words and concepts…” By “traditional praise and worship”, I am referring to what has gone on before, which could include among other things Gregorian and Ambrosian chant.

    In response to your second point;
    “So I guess the wild, african-like King David, so physically abandoned in his dance and worship, threw of (off) his clothes because some of his homies were rappin’ in the streets.”

    There is no Biblical evidence to suggest that he was doing a strip tease. Note both references to this event in the Old Testament;
    2Sa 6:14
    And David danced before the LORD with all his might; AND DAVID WAS GIRDED WITH AN EPHOD.

    1Ch 15:27 -29;
    And DAVID WAS CLOTHED WITH A ROBE OF LINEN, and all the Levites that bare the ark, and the singers, and Chenaniah the master of the song with the singers: DAVID ALSO HAD UPON HIM AN EPHOD OF LINEN. Thus all Israel brought up the ark of the covenant of the LORD with shouting, and with sound of the cornet, and with trumpets, and with cymbals, making a noise with psalteries and harps. And it came to pass, as the ark of the covenant of the LORD came to the city of David, that Michal the daughter of Saul looking out at a window saw king David dancing and playing: and she despised him in her heart.

    Where do you find David doing a strip tease? Why then did Michal despise David? Quite possibly because he had not behave like a king should behave.

    In response to the last point;
    I will allow Jesus to speak as recorded in;
    Joh 4:21-23;
    “Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.”
    Note! Jesus is stating that “PLACE” (Mountain-Jerusalem), which would by logical deduction include temple and altar, is no longer valid. New Testament worship is direct. In that context let me suggest, contemporary worship and praise is not “Spirit and Truth”, but rather “Body and Soul”

    I am not an A or post Millennialist, nor a covenant theologian. I do not believe the Bible teaches that Israel and the Church are one.
    As a general overview, the Old Testament speaks primarily of a physical people and nation, with physical promises, a physical kingdom, a physical temple and worship, with some spiritual overtones.
    The New Testament speaks primarily of a spiritual people with spiritual promises, a spiritual kingdom, a spiritual temple and worship, with some physical overtones. Please do not confuse the two. Much of Old Testament worship under the Law is physical, with prescribed rites and actions. New Testament worship is to be the opposite.

    To explain fully and document would take hundreds of pages.

  22. Something that might help clear things up (and worth pondering for one’s faith so as not to confound Law and Gospel) that I use to struggle with myself: In amillinialism and/or covenant theology a common mistaken idea, that I use to make was that that taught that the church and Israel are one. Not true, Israel is the type or shadow of the True Israel Jesus Christ. This is why you can see Christ in ALL of Scripture FOR YOU, very strengthening to faith.

    If I might “peel that apart” a bit to help: Concerning types and shadows (Hebrews), they are likened to what they say they are Some types and shadows pointing to Christ are more obvious like Gen. 3:15, others less so obvious, like the coverings of animal hide. Some types and shadows are non-paradoxical in relation, like in Joshua when Israel (the nation itself a type and shadow, true Israel is Christ, a difficulty and misstep dispensationalism thinks of covenant theology) is instructed to put their foot on the necks of the defeated kings in the promised land of Canaan (also a type and shadow itself). Israel the theocratic nation is a T/S of the True Israel, the Son, the Seed, Jesus who puts under foot the head of the serpent to crush be crushed Whose heal is bruised by the same, this reaching allll the way back shadowed before in Gen. 3. While other types and shadows are paradoxical in nature, e.g. ALSO in the VERY same book, Joshua, even those SAME kings whose necks were under the foot of the Israelites (T/S Jesus) are executed and put upon trees showing ‘cursed of God’ (he who hangs on a tree is cursed). Here the type and shadow of Christ is paradoxical in the OT in comparison to the one just previous to it, the foot on the neck of these same defeated kings. The victory shown in the first T/S is shown through the apparent paradox of defeat (theology of Cross/suffering) in the second. The first in Joshua is the non-paradoxical as Israel defeats and puts their foot on the neck of the kings they defeated (or rather God defeated), yet these same defeated kings are hung and cursed on a tree which is exactly how in paradox that Christ will defeat sin, death and the devil – namely Himself on and being cursed on a tree, the Cross, for us, and this is the bruising of His heal. This too is a broad view of Christ in Joshua, unpacked if you will the concise T/S in Gen. 3. Which brings forth the next idea concerning types and shadows are what I call “50,000 foot” views. In other words if one is too close, too myopic in looking at it one will miss it. E.g. missing the forest for the trees (some bad expository approaches can do this being too microscopic and forgetting to take it back to the broader theme). An example of this is Israel in the OT as a type and shadow, not of the church, but of Christ Himself. The theocratic nation under the Sinaic covenant is a type and shadow of Christ Who fulfills that covenant FOR His people saving them. The Sinaic covenant was the Law that the second Adam, to which Israel the theocratic nation pointed in outline per se, Christ fulfilled for us (i.e. He didn’t just not eat of the fruit like the first Adam). This nation of Israel, the many, is a T/S of One, Christ (not the church). This is why it is written of Israel in the OT both in the plural and in the singular. Israel the nation is called out of Egypt, but God also speaks of letting His Son go (singular), Israel in Joshua is baptized in crossing the river Jordan before entering the typological land of promise. Jesus’ ministry official begins when HE, the true Israel is baptized in the Jordan River and this sets forth the eschatological last days. Even the very very broad theme within the Pentateuch is a kind of 50,000 foot view of Christ, if you just sit down and ‘sketch out’ in very short order what happened you begin to get a sketch of the Messiah. Put yourself into the mindset of Abraham, Moses, Noah or any other and attempt to know all that they alone knew and how did this make them believe in the promised Seed! That’s hard to do post-first advent.

    Also thinking of types, shadows and promise in the OT is helpful to understand that these are a kind of sketch or outline of the Christ to come but details and content are greatly missing. It’s literally like looking at a shadow figure and trying to figure what it looks like. As the term shadow means just that, a “shadow” is a shady silhouette without any real detail as to content, perhaps a general nature of a thing. A shadow, thus, forecast the reality approaching. In the case of Scripture it is forecasting (the shadow figure “seen”) in time and space. By analogy one might imagine a shadow coming around the corner. You see some rough sketch and outline of a figure void of any content in three dimensions or actual detail on the person. Perhaps you see the shadow of two arms, a head, a body, two legs. “A human being”, you assess correctly. But what, a woman, man, hair color, eye color, height, weight, facial details, skin color, etc…these you do not know. These are the non-paradoxical figures, the shadow of an arm that turns out to be an arm is just that when the reality comes an arm, so that is not all that surprising even when the details arrive, you expected an arm and got an arm, not something else. However, then you see the shadow of something in his hand. Is it an axe you fear and panic? Anxiety builds upon this interpretation as the shadow approaches. You have interpreted erroneously, but to you its logically real and the only conclusion you can draw. When the reality ‘rounds the corner’ you find that it was not an axe in the hands of a killer coming after you, but an envelop from a man delivering to you a great prize. These are like the paradoxical types and shadows in that they are not clearly seen until the reality came, Who was Christ. And so different than the idolatrous concoction drawn before that you still refuse to believe it, “Surely it was an axe”. Like the kings being cursed on the tree, a wrong interpretation, which much of Israel thought when Jesus came, would be of Israel continuing to conquer the evil gentile sinners and thus gain the promised land by a non-paradoxical King of might and power. But the power of God looks like weakness to man, and the wisdom of God appears to be foolishness to man. None-the-less in paradox, which even Peter missed much as well as the other Apostles, it was Jesus who would be hung on the tree. Imagine their shock at this about their King, the Messiah! Jesus even had to rebuke Peter for this error.

    And this all plays out in not confounding the covenants, law and gospel, true grace versus graciousness, who is the church, the sacraments then and now, and so forth. For example if you throw out or confound the covenant of works with Adam, then you ruin the real work of Christ, primarily His active obedience for you/me and deny half of Christ’s work (most people deny and/or cover up the Gospel at this point, His imputed righteousness to us and not so much at the forgiveness of sins). In Adam, we, failed this covenant and the Sinaic Covenant was for Christ to fulfill which Israel was a type and shadow of nationally speaking. But Israel themselves would never have eternal life this way even thought the Sinaic Covenant required it in order to be in the shadow of Canaan, the earthly rest, that forecast the reality of eternal life before God.

    Thus, Christ the Seed from Gen. 3:15 is literally impregnated into the Scriptures and hence Gospel from day one is present everywhere. At the end of the day the Scriptures are about Christ, every word of it, Scripture is not a “prescription book” for us per se.

    So Israel is not the church per se but Christ is the new Israel, the fulfillment of what Israel the theocratic nation forecast in shadow. Israel is reduced to One on Whom the burden of the whole world is placed. Israel as the nation failed but Israel was reduced to One, Jesus Christ and He didn’t fail. From humanity from the very fall God promised a Seed. And the thing about ‘seed’ is that it looks, particularly in the Hebrew grasp, through all prior to it as being intimately connected to the one that IS the final One Seed as it were. And that Seed was promised in Gen. 3:15, that’s why Eve saw the promise so strong in “the Lord has given me another child”. She literally saw Christ in that child even though that one child THEN was not THE ONE. The same thing happens in Abraham with Isaiah. This is Paul’s point in Gal. concerning the two different seeds. Isaac is literally seen as the Seed in a kind of looking through him to the Christ per se, the physical linkage.

    This is astounding. Think about that. This answers a lot. We are not saved by physical decent, as John for example in chapter one says, among other places and as Jews mistook. All in both the OT and NT have been saved by faith, OT saints just saw in type and shadow, were we see the reality historically looking back. The physical decent is unto the types and shadows of Israel as the type leading to the archtype, Christ, the true Israel. Underlying Israel in the OT, the nation/the many, is the true Israel, the One, the Seed of promise, the Christ all the time is there. He is simply not “grossly” visible until 0 A.D. on our time scale at the conception of the Messiah through Mary (the link of the Seed reaching ALL the way back to Gen. 3:15).

    The general flow throughout Scripture goes like this: Humanity from creation is reduced to Israel which in turn reduced to a remnant of theocratic Israel which finally reduces to Christ alone. Christ then restores the New Israel grown from the remnant Israel this expands (in Acts) into growing to the infant Church and unto the Nations (make disciples of all nations) today. All who trust in Him are true Israel then (OT) and now (NT), it has NEVER been otherwise. When John corrects that man is not saved by lineage but Christ alone he is connecting that continuity that always has been true Old and New Testament. Thus, the covenant promise has always the same unto believers and their children (circumcision and baptism are this mark), it’s the movement of the body of Christ that has collapsed then expanded from OT through NT to today.

    Type and shadow is seen EVERYWHERE in the OT and this is NO small thing for our faith today. It shows that ALL history is subsumed under redemptive history, and is a living Gospel for us to believe upon the return of Christ in which we hope (that’s your answer for the hope that you have) in spite of what appears to be failing here and now individually for us and nationally speaking as the church united.

    For example the theophany that Abraham saw of the fire pot passing through the severed animals. What was this? It was symbolic of the reality. A circumcision from life (the animals prefigure this) and the smoking fire pot was the offering made. These look forward to the full circumcision of the Cross, Jesus circumcised from life in the dereliction and abandonment of the Cross and offered up as a the true soothing aroma. Circumcision itself is a symbolic partial cutting off of life (particularly the instrument of seed) prefiguring this. Paul calls the Cross the “circumcision of Christ” and Jesus also calls his Cross a baptism (ordeal, both are life/death ordeals, hence the link of circumcision and baptism is explicit at the Cross). Isaac is the type seed pointing forward to the true Seed. His “almost” sacrifice is portraying in a prefigure the real Sacrifice of the lamb of God. Again here circumcision from life is captured in the circumcision of Isaac and almost circumcision from life stopped by the angel at Abraham’s hand. The ram is caught, another prefigure to Christ, and is then “circumcised” from life to death, then burnt upon the alter (also looking back at the theophany of the fire pot through the severed animals). We see this again in the theophany of the pillar of fire protecting Israel and judging Egypt cutting the two off through the fire judgment. Similarly the baptism, as Paul says, of Israel at the Reed Sea, cutting off, judging Egypt but justifying Israel (their glory/fame is in this act, God redeems and vindicates them, the glory). This occurs again in Joshua at the crossing of the Jordan. This occurred backward at the Flood which Peter calls a baptism that saves, not as by washing dirt from the body, but the ordeal judgment of cutting off from life the judged and redeeming/vindicating the redeemed, Noah and his family. Cutting off and circumcision also link the idea of baptism and circumcision because throughout the Bible baptism is always a cutting off act, an act of judgment from life and redemption to life. In baptism we are set aside from those not baptized, that is not having the name of God which entails ALL the names of God (Jesus = meaning He/God will save His people from their sin, Emmanuel = God with us, and all the others including YWWH). This is why infants of believers are baptized, because they are cut off from the heathen. They don’t belong to Adam but the New Adam. If baptism is rejected by anyone either outright as an adult and never had or “thrown off” as it were later in life by an adult, then one is rejecting the covenant of grace and heading back to Egypt, Sodom, etc…to the other side of the cutting off from life to death rather than the redeemed side unto eternal life, as did some of Israel in the desert of Sinai post Reed Sea! Baptism symbolized and seals God’s judgment and redemption not faith itself nor unbelief (the lack thereof of baptism).

    Anyway I’ve went waaaay long here, my apologies. It’s just so exciting and faith strengthening.


    Larry KY

  23. Nothing gets people’s knickers in a twist like critiquing their music. With Christians we have this overlay of holiness on top of it, so you’d really better not critique their music. Especially if it makes ’em feel all warm and tingly inside.

    I’ve been to lots of moshpit churches, and I wouldn’t go so far as to say all the kids are just going through the motions. Some of them really do love Jesus. But I would guess that the percentage of actual Jesus followers is about the same as the percentage in the non-charismatic youth group I grew up in.

    Kids are in that weird place where they have to take the Christianity they were raised to practice, and turn it into the Christianity they want to practice. Till they get to that point you’re gonna have hypocrites who see worship as something to take from instead of something to bring. Doesn’t matter what form the music takes. One can mosh to contemporary worship music for God’s sake or for one’s own.

    One can bellow out a hymn for the very same reasons — they like to sing their heart out, or they love Jesus and want to sing to Him. Or join a gospel choir. Or whatever. Actions speak louder than words, and every kind of music is, most of the time, just words. People sing “I could sing of Your love forever” but they’d rather not have that chorus repeated more than four times. People sing “I surrender all to You,” but the service better not go past noon ’cause that’s cutting into their time. Et cetera, ad nauseam.

    If we add all the other worship-forms throughout the centuries, it ain’t gonna make the services any holier; it’s just gonna give people new and interesting ways to practice hypocrisy. Returning to ancient forms isn’t the answer. Real relationships with Jesus is. Get the relationships straight and then the sacraments will actually mean something.

  24. N. Anton:

    “There is no Biblical evidence to suggest that he was doing a strip tease.”

    You are quite right on that point but I never said David was a stripper. Nonetheless the implication from the text is that he removed his clothes down to the ephod.

    Michal says to him…

    “…How glorious was the king of Israel today, who uncovered himself today in the eyes of the handmaids of his servants, as one of the vain fellows shamelessly uncovers himself!”
    (2Sa 6:20)

    The hebrew word for “uncovered” is ‘galah’, Strongs 1540, meaning to denude, especially in a disgraceful sense. Clearly, David had removed clothing. Not all, but I never said all, nor denied he was wearing the ephod. I simply said he removed his clothes, and enough clothing was removed to give Michal an opportunity to vent her bitterness toward him by accusing him of stripping down beyond what was in good taste.

    Here are other places where this word is used, clearly implying the removal of clothing…

    “And he drank of the wine and was drunk. And he was uncovered inside his tent.”
    (Gen 9:21)

    “You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father’s wife. It is your father’s nakedness.”
    (Lev 18:8)

    N. Anton:

    “Why then did Michal despise David? Quite possibly because he had not behave like a king should behave.”

    And I say to forget “possibilities” and just interact with the text. Michal’s words are there, and the removal of clothing is clearly there.

    N. Anton:

    “Jesus is stating that “PLACE” (Mountain-Jerusalem), which would by logical deduction include temple and altar, is no longer valid. New Testament worship is direct. In that context let me suggest, contemporary worship and praise is not “Spirit and Truth”, but rather “Body and Soul””

    Interact with the text of Scripture. David worshiped in his body (he lept and danced), his soul and his spirit: his entire being.

    1Th 5:23 “And may the God of peace Himself sanctify you, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blamelessly at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

    …whole spirit and soul and body…

    Your philosophy of music and spirituality would be understood by African-American believers as racist and culturally chauvinistic, and none of it can be supported by scripture.

  25. Nicholas Anton says

    First, I will give W.E. Vine’s definition of the term.
    The ephod was a priestly garment of white linen, and attached to the body by a girdle. The ephod of the high priest was of a special character. It was oblong in shape and made of richly variegated material, interwoven with gold thread, all the “work of the designer” (see EMBROIDERY). It was kept in place by two shoulder pieces, that is, straps attached to it behind, and passing to the front over the shoulders; on the top of each of these was an onyx stone, engraven with the names of six of the tribes. It was held round the body by a band of the same material as the ephod, and woven in one piece with it by which it was girded round the waist. It was warn over a blue garment called “the robe of the ephod.” On the front of it was fastened the jewelled breastplat…and so forth…
    A simpler ephod was warn by Samuel as a servant in Eli’s ministry (1 Samuel 2:18), by the eighty-five priests slain by Doeg (22:18), and by David when he danced before the arc (2 Samuel 6:14).

    Now, let us return to the text at hand;
    1Ch 15:27 -29;

    In other words, the ephod was over the robe.

    If David would have removed any clothes, the ephod would have been the first to go. If David was still wearing the ephod when he danced, the robe and under clothes would still have been intact.

    Would you suggest that if a person wrote, “In her evening gown and mink stole, she was dressed to kill”, that this woman had a six shooter on either hip, and was out to commit murder? Obviously not!

    Similarily, it is quite obvious from the text (2Sa 6:20) that Michal’s statement was hyperbole and irony.

    Enough said.

    P.S. Our pastor and his wife are the only two blacks in the church we attend. This morning he commented about the total acceptance he felt in the church. I asked him after the service if I as a white would be equally accepted in a black church. He replied, “probably not”.

  26. N. Anton:

    “1Ch 15:27 -29;

    In other words, the ephod was over the robe.”

    Wow, the logical compulsion to conclude the ephod was over the robe rather than the robe over the ephod from this verse did not hit me. Is there something in the Hebrew I’m missing?

    The verse states…

    A. David wore a robe of linen.
    B. David “also” wore an ephod of linen.

    There is no exegetical justification for then slipping in the point that the ephod was over the robe.

    Can you produce some good biblical commentary to this effect?

    The commentators I referenced seem to be in complete agreement that the robe of linen was his “royal robe” and the ephod was more of a priestly garment. David was NOT a priest, but a king. The royal robe was his regular clothing. But, like Messiah, he sheds his “royal robe” and puts on the priestly garment.

    This interpretation has the benefit of the Messianic typology and it fits in quite nicely with what would have otherwise been quite an irrational and unexplainable comment by Michal.

    The fact that he put off his royal robe would naturally explain Michal’s charge that he had shamefully uncovered himself. That he did so only to put on priestly garments would explain the nature of her hatred at his audacity in doing so.

  27. Nicholas Anton says


    It was not I who initiated the statement of the ephod going over the robe, but W.E. Vine, and when I quoted him, I quoted that portion of his quote. Let me repeat part of that quote.

    “It (the ephod) was held round the body by a band of the same material as the ephod, and woven in one piece with it by which it was girded round the waist. It (the ephod)was warn over a blue garment called “the robe of the ephod.”

    I would suppose that you are also aware that David did many other things forbidden by God which are listed without moral judgment in the Biblical comment, such as;

    2Sa 5:12-13;
    “And David perceived that the LORD had established him king over Israel, and that he had exalted his kingdom for his people Israel’s sake. And David took him more concubines and wives out of Jerusalem, after he was come from Hebron: and there were yet sons and daughters born to David.”

    Here is another example of something exotic that David did without moral judgment in the comment;

    1Ki 1:1-4;

    “Now king David was old and stricken in years; and they covered him with clothes, but he gat no heat. Wherefore his servants said unto him, Let there be sought for my lord the king a young virgin: and let her stand before the king, and let her cherish him, and let her lie in thy bosom, that my lord the king may get heat. So they sought for a fair damsel throughout all the coasts of Israel, and found Abishag a Shunammite, and brought her to the king. And the damsel was very fair, and cherished the king, and ministered to him: but the king knew her not.”

    If you want to interpret everything exotic that is stated in the Bible without moral comment as suitable for the New Testament believer, that is your problem. Please forget the typology which is hermeneutically and contextually totally unwarranted. I had my fill of it last year when I was told from the pulpit that “the man who walketh not in the council of the ungodly” from Ps. 1 is a type of Christ, as is the Song of Solomon etc. etc. True, Ps 2 is Messianic, but not Ps 1.
    I will continue to live by what Christ taught as recorded in the Gospels, as well as what the apostles taught in the Epistles and the remainder of the New Testament.

    There is a higher standard in the Bible than David that I seek to follow.

  28. Nicholas Anton says


    Sorry for further comment because the continuing of this polemic on David’s attire is utterly useless. I am only responding now to point out that I had no intention of stating “…many other…”. I simply meant to say, “… David did many things…” I do not concede to Joe’s and many charismatics assertion that David was immodestly attired on this occasion. Inappropriately, possibly, but immodestly, No! I would see 1 Ch as a clarification of 2 Sa.
    Insofar as an ephod was an over garment, and insofar as 1 Ch states that “DAVID ALSO HAD UPON HIM AN EPHOD OF LINEN”, would tend to indicate that in this case, as normally practiced, the ephod was over the robe. Nowhere does the Biblical text state that David removed any of his clothes.
    An angry tort from a humiliated wife is no more convincing than the accusations that Jesus was a glutton and wine bibber. Furthermore, insofar that we are never told to follow David’s example, I will let the case rest. Ce Est Fini. Ich Mach Schluss.

  29. Michael,

    I really appreciate your candor as well as the path you’ve traveled. We are in different denominations, but can appreciate worship forms that are different from those we engage in on Sun. mornings.


  30. Nicholas Anton says


    I would love to see a fuller discussion of the first response by John T. I believe his presenting of Luther’s view is very informative (“sacrificium”, our work, to “beneficium”, God’s work). Yes, John T, I strongly agree with you. Allow me to contribute to this view. I will divide what is called praise and worship into four concepts.
    1) to recite.
    2) to perform.
    3) to profess.
    4) to confess.
    The first two conform to “our work”; The latter two focus on “God’s Work”. The first is simply going through the motions/words/actions (a skeleton). The second is trying to put reality/life on the skeleton (flesh and blood). The third is knowing the Truth with the mind (Affirming God). The forth is accepting that Truth as my Truth (Believing God, This I Believe). Note Peter’s great confession, “Thou Art The Christ, The Son of the Living God”.

  31. Anecdote:

    This being October, I’ve been noticing the annual flareup of “We’re Not Halloween”/”Harvestfests” among a lot of non-liturgical types on a couple subscription lists. (“Harvestfest” = “Just like Halloween, except CHRISTIAN!”)

    As a mamber of the oldest Western-rite Liturgical Church (Romish Papist) with its accompanying sense of history, I keep wondering why they keep Reinventing the Wheel. Why feel the need to baptize Halloween and make it Christian (TM) when the bishops of my Church already did 1000 years ago, when they baptized Samhain into Halloween/All Saints Day/All Souls Day? Why reinvent the wheel?

  32. Why does it matter if a praise and worship service looks like a concert for secular music? If we can get excited at a concert, how much more excited should we get to worship God?

    Not to say that refraining from raising your hands, dancing, or moving isn’t true worship. Contemplatively standing still can be very worshipful and necessary. But why limit expressions of worship? Can we judge someone’s sincerity by how they move? Should we worry about someone else’s sincerity at all?

  33. I’ve said repeatedly that I appreciate and support contemporary worship. I oversee it in my ministry, but that is why I can say the actions that go along with it are no longer predictably meaningful. We’re as much “going through the motions” now as ever.

  34. I’ve never heard of theologians arguing over David’s worship attire before, that’s a new one.

    Music does influence, the hippie revolution was all about music as the medium for a message. I won’t begin to “guess” which form is more acceptable to God, but we must be careful because all forms are not equally “good”. We are probably all more “off” than we think.

  35. Does silence have any place in contemporary evangelical worship? I am truly curious about this (cradle Catholic). Very interesting conversation.

  36. “I’ve never heard of theologians arguing over David’s worship attire before, that’s a new one.”

    Does this mean then that the following applies to me, since I brought out “things new?”…

    Therefore every scribe who is instructed to the kingdom of Heaven is like a man who is a householder, who brings out things new and old out of his treasure.
    (Mat 13:52)

    If so, thanks. 🙂

    “Music does influence, the hippie revolution was all about music as the medium for a message.”

    Let me ask you – about Francis of Assisi. Did he have anything to do with the “hippie music” of his time, or rather something “more acceptable” to God?



    “Inspired by his youth as a troubadour love poet who searched for an invisible, unattainable “lady love,” Francis fixed his affections on “Lady Poverty,” and tried his best to die of love for her—since she seemed to him the closest companion of Christ.”

    Francis took up the music of the countercultural Troubadours and transformed it from being songs in search of a girl into songs in search of “lady poverty.”

    A modern example might be the late Keith Green, a man whose “hippy” sensibilities did not prevent him from also writing lyrics that make Steve Camp seem emergent.

    And if you are going to knock these two (Francis and Keith), well then goodnight!


  37. Nicholas Anton says

    While I am not suggesting that all contemporary music is evil (much past music is equally evil), nor that all who sing questionable music are doing it for false purposes, I would suggest that we as believers be cautious in what we do and promote. I have heard of Christian leaders stating “Jesus Rocks”. This to me is pure blasphemy. Note how the term “rock and roll” is defined in a secular dictionary.
    “Webster’s New World Dictionary”, Third edition, defines.;
    “rock and roll…[first so used (1951) by Alled Freed, Cleveland disc jockey, taken from the song “My Baby Rocks Me with a Steady Roll”: used of rock, roll, rock and roll, etc., with ref. to sexual intercourse, is traditional in blues] a form of popular music that evolved in the 1950’s from rhythm and blues, characterized by the use of electric guitars, a strong rhythm with an accent on the offbeat, and youth-oriented lyrics.”
    What many consider as “spontaneous choreography” as practiced in many so called Christian rock concerts and even worship and praise services is not really spontaneous at all, but rather the conditioned movements of the secular Rock concert whose roots lie in the motions of sexual intercourse transferred from a fornicator’s/adulterer’s bed to secular entertainment, and then to Christian worship. Can “four letter word” music and actions be used to describe our relationship with Jesus Christ? Oddly, this style of music seems to be the one necessary to give our youth the “ spiritual high” they demand and seek after in their daily lives and in their religious experience called praise and worship. Something seems to be wrong. So if you want to use contemporary Christian music, please do not call it Christian rock.

  38. Nicholas Anton says

    Perhaps we should listen to Philip Schaff in his comments on both Luther and Calvin;

    “The reformation of doctrine led to a reconstruction of worship on the basis of Scripture and the guidance of such passages as, God is spirit,” and must be worshipped, in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24), and, Let all things be done decently and in order” (1 Cor. 14:40). Protestantism aims at a rational or spiritual service, as distinct from a mechanical service of mere forms. It acts upon the heart through the intellect, rather than the senses, and through instruction, rather than ceremonies. It brings the worshiper into direct communion with God in Christ, through the word of God and prayer, without the obstruction of human mediators.”

    “Calvin built his form of worship on the foundation of Zwingli and Farel, and the services already in use in the Swiss Reformed Churches. Like his predecessors, he had no sympathy whatever with the Roman Catholic ceremonialism, which was overloaded with unscriptural traditions and superstitions. We may add that he had no taste for the artistic, symbolical, and ornamental features in worship. He (Calvin) rejected the mass, all the sacraments, except two, the saints’ days, nearly all church festivals, except Sunday, images, relics, processions, and the whole pomp and circumstance of a gaudy worship which appeals to the senses and imagination rather than the intellect and the conscience, and tends to distract the mind with the outward show instead of concentrating it upon the contemplation of the saving truth of the gospel.
    He substituted in its place that simple and spiritual mode of worship which is well adapted for intelligent devotion, if it be animated by the quickening presence and power of the Spirit of God, but becomes jejune, barren, cold, and chilly if that power is waiting. He made the sermon the central part of worship, and substituted instruction and edification in the vernacular for the reading of the mass in Latin. He magnified the pulpit, as the throne of the preacher, above the altar of the sacrificing priest. He opened the inexhaustible fountain of free prayer in public worship, with its endless possibilities of application to varying circumstances and wants; he restored to the Church, like Luther, the inestimable blessing of congregational singing, which is the true popular liturgy, and more effective than the reading of written forms of prayer.”

  39. As a former chaplain at a school that included both Christians and non-Christians, I witnessed kids participating in our worship services in lots of different ways. Kids who were non-believers were still often interested in helping to lead the worship-singing or being in a play in chapel. Kids (and adults!) are naturally curious about God at work in general, and especially in a worship scenario. And God is always seeking each of us, believer and un-believer.

    Certainly, whatever is socially acceptable in a given group will dictate some of their (our) behavior. I always tried to remember that I cannot know what God is doing at any moment – especially when worship is going on. How can we know the thoughts of the Holy Spirit?

    “Genuine worshipers” are a different story than un-believers in a chapel service. I’m pretty sure that genuine worship can happen anywhere genuine believers gather, no matter the format.

  40. This is probably an honest assessment of “worhip and praise” in the church today.
    There has been so much emphasis placed on the style of music being true worship,
    that the true worship has been left out of the picture. We have been literally SOLD
    a product from the music industry who is actually telling us what the ULTIMATE
    WORSHIP SONGS are for us to use in the church. It is an industry that does not care
    if the songs are written and recorded by Spirit filled Christioans with a God given
    anointing in the area of worhip. Can music be a part of our worhip? Absolutely yes.
    But if we can’t worship without just the right song or music then we’ve severely
    departed from what God calls the worship of Him.

  41. As a progressive Buddhist I found this discussion really relevent to all faiths.

    In my opinion there isn’t a right way to worship. A well rounded faith explores the different means of worship just as there are the different aspects to God.

    Push yourself to try something different.

    Buddhists sit silently and don’t move during our version of worship. The silence and concentration help us see and hear what we are looking for. In more animated forms of worship the focus and concentration developed in quite contemplation is lost.

    But when we play the flute, dance, or do more active forms of yoga or in fact do anything we have the dynamism of the spirit in is and there’s no choice… you just gotta dance!

  42. An imperative part of Christian agency is raising the money needed to carry out the work of God’s kingdom. The articles below discuss biblical methods of fund raising, the trends that influence it and the history of Christian involvement.
    Wide Circles

  43. I suppose there is nothing quite like playing in bars for twenty or so years. There is no basis for poking fun at the motivation that leads many folks to make a joyful noise. Bless ’em. Please bless us all.

  44. Margot Queen says

    This discussion resonates with me as I just picked up my 14 year old son from a Catholic Youth Retreat (in our parish mandatory to be Confirmed a Roman Catholic.) We (my immediate and extended family) are of a modest worship tradition, no swaying and raising of arms and we feel very uncomfortable as our fellow congregationists increasingly worship in a more physical way. My problem…the youth retreat seems to be designed assuming that every kid will be attracted to the rockin music…halilujas, swaying and shouted amens. Frankly my son was turned off by it all and after a long discussion with him I find out that the “retreat” involved 70’s-esque sensitivity sessions combined with individual open confession of sin (blindfolds were involved!), fire and brimstone preaching by lay ministers and sleep deprivation (sounds a bit like brainwashing?)
    My son is exhausted and disallusioned with us for sending him!
    I guess it’s time for us to move to a different church?