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Why Worship Takes Practice

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At theology pub Friday, we all sat around and conversed on the issues of worship. I put forward the typology of “lecture hall” worship versus “rock concert pep-rally” worship as the primary modes of worship for evangelicals and suggested that both were inadequate for forming truthful minds and faith experience in Christians. This typology is found in chapter four in my the Great Giveaway. The people at our pub ranged in age from 16 to early 50’s. Most seemed to agree that a worship service geared entirely towards a 55 minute sermon which seeks to dispense information information to Cartesian minds, is inadequate for formative worship. What was less obvious and hotly debated, was the legitimacy of rock concert style worship to form us into Christ.
I continue to assert that a sufficient theology of worship must come to grips with the epistemological shifts of the last century whereby we can no longer be naive that “religious experience” is an apriori given that affords immediate access to God. Rather experience is produced through interpretive frameworks, particularly linguistic. Experience is something learned and trained into. As Lindbeck would say, “there is no uninterpreted experience.” After Wittgenstein, Lindbeck, Hauerwas and others therefore, we cannot avoid paying attention to liturgy, including language, symbol and sacrament all governed within the church’s Scriptures given to us in Christ.

This is one of the reasons why the evangelical church must move beyond the “lecture hall” and the “rock concert pep rally” if we wish to recover a worship that shapes truthful minds and faithful experience.

In light of this I hope to say some words in posts to come about Carl Raschke’s The Next Reformation: Why Evangelicals Must Embrace PostModernity. Here Raschke argues that charistmatic worship and church experience is the way forward for evangelicals in postmodernity. I am all for a charismatic experience, a worship of God that includes emotions and the gifts and miracles, as long as it is formed out of faithful linguistic structures, as a response to God and ordered to God. I there hope to publish a few posts in the days ahead suggesting some qualifiers to Raschke if we evangelicals, and especially the emergent church are to take his book seriously for the way forward in these postmodern times. Also forthcoming, some notes on Kevin Van Hoozer’s Book The Drama of Doctrine.

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7 responses to “Why Worship Takes Practice

  1. But wouldn’t you agree that worship is a life principle, not an action for either the lecture hall, or the pop-concert? It isn’t about how we do church in a post-modern society, but how we be the Church to the world today.

  2. But wouldn’t you agree that worship is a life principle, not an action for either the lecture hall, or the pop-concert? It isn’t about how we do church in a post-modern society, but how we be the Church to the world today.

  3. Sarge … do you mean “principle, not an action”? See I realy think the practice of gathering, reading Scriptures, hearing the Word proclaimed, sitting around the Table partaking of the Body, confessing, praying, affirming truth, and returning praise and adoration to God makes possible the vision, and orientation needed to live life from God and see thru faith God working … so, I may be mis-characterizing, but it is really my whole point to make worship more than a principle, indeed a concrete practice that shapes our relationship to God …
    peace … DF

  4. Sarge … do you mean “principle, not an action”? See I realy think the practice of gathering, reading Scriptures, hearing the Word proclaimed, sitting around the Table partaking of the Body, confessing, praying, affirming truth, and returning praise and adoration to God makes possible the vision, and orientation needed to live life from God and see thru faith God working … so, I may be mis-characterizing, but it is really my whole point to make worship more than a principle, indeed a concrete practice that shapes our relationship to God …
    peace … DF

  5. DF; By “principle, not an action” I mean a life lived through faith that brings glory to God and to His Church. Perhaps I have seen far too many “praise and worship” services, where when that part of the service was over the attitude was, “that’s my obligation for this week”. Agree with you that worship should shape our relationship with God, but believe it is the responsibility of each believer to “work our your own salvation with fear and trembling” so that their lives reflect worship to the Father, through the Son, our Lord and Savior.

    Live large!

  6. DF; By “principle, not an action” I mean a life lived through faith that brings glory to God and to His Church. Perhaps I have seen far too many “praise and worship” services, where when that part of the service was over the attitude was, “that’s my obligation for this week”. Agree with you that worship should shape our relationship with God, but believe it is the responsibility of each believer to “work our your own salvation with fear and trembling” so that their lives reflect worship to the Father, through the Son, our Lord and Savior.

    Live large!

  7. I think the issue of how we do church and how we be the church to world today are inextricably intertwined. If the way we do church is not consonant with shaping the character of Christ in us, then we cannot effectively be the body of Christ in the world. I agree that we are each to work out our own salvation before God, but think this must be done in the context of a healthy, properly functioning body of Christ.

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