Dluxe's World

Wednesday, April 12

Thoughts on "Give Praise to God" - Part 8 of 3278

Actually, this is the long awaited last post on Give Praise to God. It seems customary for bloggers to link to the previous installments of a post. Far be it from me to buck conventions... So, you can read parts one, two, three, four, five, six, and seven if'n you want.

I kept waiting to post this final article because I was digesting the latest 'worship war' that erupted in the blogsphere. Now that has died down, I'll throw my summary statement out.

Give Praise to God was a strange read for me. I can say that I, without exception, affirm the overarching principle of the book... I differ on some application, though. I'll start by affirming where I agree.

When we approach the worship of our God and Creator, we should do so with reverence and awe (Hebrews 12:28). We must be careful to recognize that even our worship, to be acceptable, must be mediated through Christ's blood. We have no basis to stand before the Lord outside of Christ's work - and yet in the Savior's blood we've been brought into the family, adopted as sons.

Though we are now true children of God through Christ, we mustn't forget who we are worshipping - and remember that HE makes the rules. God alone has the right to define the right parameters for our worship. By grace, He's given us His ordinances in Scripture. If we worship God outside of the boundaries He sets, we're not worshipping Him anymore. We're worshipping an idol - either a indifferent, less-than-Holy God on the throne or an exaltation of ourselves (making worship about 'me').

A right attitude of worship should pervade everything in our life: How we study scripture and pray with family, how we connect with others, and obviously how we function when gathered corporately as the Body of Christ.

There it is, an affirmation of the book's theme. Now, where I differ. First, I don't offer any of this criticism flippantly or to denigrate those on the other side of the aisle. We're on the same team, after all...

The authors of this book, though not of one mind, are certainly advocating for a strict application of the 'regulative principle' of worship. Their application presses into the the extreme, in my opinion, relative to music. The strong implication of the book is that if it isn't hymnody or psalmody it should be cast into the flames.

I've tried to think of the best way to express my take so it makes sense without turning into a rambling flurry of words. I hope this illustration is appropriate:

When I pray, there are all kinds of emotions and expressions that come out. There are times where I'm praising God for the lofty, almost indescribable truth of who He is. If you wrote down what I say, it'd probably read a lot like a theology text or some Puritan essay. There are times where my prayers are saturated with Scripture, practically quoting out of the Psalms or one of Paul's letters.

There are also times, however, where I'm almost at a loss for words. I have found myself just repeating over and over my regret for the place I'd put myself, crying out for God to melt my heart and bring me near again. And believe me when I tell you that I am far from eloquent in those moments...

I think our prayer life rightly has this kind of ebb and flow... I can't help but feel that our corporate worship can rightly have the same.

We must evaluate our worship of God 'theologically'... Are we rightly glorifying God for who HE is? Still, the particular expressions used to that end can be broad. Singing "Holy, Holy, Holy" or some heavy Psalter is bedrock, theological truth. But, we should also be able to sing simple cries to God to change our hearts or melodies speaking of the surreal love we've been shown. Simple or new is not always bad...

Context is important. If you're singing nothing but "Draw Me Close to You", which inspired the recent flamewar, you are not rightly worshipping God. Period. However, I think there is a place and limited role for songs like this. And while it doesn't turn garbage into roses, good pastoral leadership (thoughtfully choosing musical/liturgical elements and explaining their place to the congregants) should open a palette of expression to us that draws on the best of the lofty and the humble.

I love Bob Kauflin's commentary here. Wish I had his mind and his heart!

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  • Good summary...at least you agreed with me. What I think is funny is that the various contributors also would seem to question how committed the others are to the "regulative principle". The issue isn't whether or not God has the right to call the shots in worship; it over WHAT regulations the Almighty has given.
    Don't you think most of the contributors would come away from our worship times and feel like they have met God in a God-honoring way...I wonder if they spent too much zeal propping up and tearing down a straw man?

    By Blogger coramdeo, at 9:39 AM, April 13, 2006  

  • Thanks, Coram... Agreeing with you was the stated goal, right?

    At least that avoids the tar & feathers.

    re: 'our' worship - I sure hope that they would feel that it is God-honoring. I'm thankful that's the goal of the people involved from the top down.

    One thing I'm often struck by is how easy it is to forget about the world outside of our holy huddle. We all read the same blogs, affirm the same things, etc. Reading the book in that light, it seems like the argument for 'regulated' worship is beaten, dead horse.

    However, if I peer over the wall, I realize that we are likely the minority. Most of the world is reading a different set of blogs that affirm some very different, 'Christian' things. With that audience in mind, "GP2G" could be read very differently...

    By Blogger HeavyDluxe, at 11:43 AM, April 13, 2006  

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