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Shadows of Divine Things

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Location: Texas, United States

This site is devoted to theological and philosophical investigations of the spiritual meanings of life, current events, music, spiritual growth, nature, and learning to be attuned to listening to the 'language of God.' The name of this blog comes from one of Jonathan Edwards's journals which he called 'Shadows of Divine Things,' and later renamed 'Images of Divine Things.' As a Christian I am continously on a spiritual journey to grow more into the image of Christ, to understand what it means to be crucified with Christ. To seek the truths of the Christian Faith is of upmost importance, and to know that any truths that are found outside of Christianity are present there because they ultimately point to God. I have an M.A. in theology and apologetics and I completed one year of graduate studies in Philosophy at Marquette University.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

A Worshipping Community

Over the last few years I have been concerned about a particular issue. The issue is worship, and the concern stems from my wife and my search for a new church home. About two years ago my wife and I left our church home due to a series of issues (which I will not detail) arising within the leadership of the church. It took us about a year and three months to find a new church home. During this time we visited literally dozens upon dozens of various churches, some of these experiences I posted at this blog as they occurred; you can peruse through the archives over the last year and read about a few of these.

Having visited so many different churches in various denominations led me to my aforementioned concern—worship! While we have visited many different churches across the country, since we lived in three different states in the last seven years, and we have crossed denominational lines in our visitations, however, these past few years, my concern has really hit home with me. I firmly believe that most churches (in the U.S. at least) have lost a sense of true worship, not to mention a sense of sound ecclesiological theology. Worship has become an individually geared activity to serve a particular end, such as helping one to “feel better” about one’s self, or make one feel closer to God, etc.

Therefore, much of what is called “worship” is nothing of the sort. It is merely a group of people coming together to achieve “the end” which the group believes is best suited for those gathered. Or to formulate a style of what is called “worship” which in fact caters to those outside the church in an attempt to bring them in the church in hopes of “winning their souls to Christ.” What happens in these circumstances is that the style or the ends then becomes a trade off for sound theology. In other words, the method usurps the message, and all sound theological aspects of worship are lost.

What I experienced over these last few years of visiting various churches was gimmicks, methods, or styles, and very little genuine worship at all. This bothered me, and still bothers me to no end. Therefore, over the next few days (or weeks as the case may be) I’ll be posting a series on worship. This upcoming series was not only motivated by my church visitation experiences but also by a book I recently purchased (in my gathering of books on worship) in order to revisit an issue I had once researched when I was in seminary; namely worship. The book is titled Liturgical Theology: The Church as a Worshiping Community by Simon Chan.

This book, in my estimation, really hits the ball out of the park with regard to the issue of worship. I will draw from its pages and provide quotes when necessary. The underlining occurrence I experienced in all these visitations of various churches was the idea that those who gathered thought they actually had something to offer to God in “their worship experience.” This is, as Simon Chan declares, and I firmly agree, a distortion of the glory of God. And this is all too prevalent in U.S. churches today; thus, I begin this new series. Any feedback as the series moves along is greatly desired and appreciated.

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