God-Centered Worship is Heresy

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Tonight my Professor proposed a provocative thought: that worship that focuses on God as the object of worship alone could very well be viewed as heresy.

His reasoning is based on Hebrews as a whole and the gospels, but particularly on 8:2, where Jesus is worshipping the Father in the heavenly sanctuary (might Jesus be called a worship leader?), and we take part with Him in worshipping the Father.

So for my professor, our worship is actually a participation through the Spirit in the Son’s worship of the Father.  In this model, based on James Torrance’s great work, Worship, Community, and the Triune God of Grace, worship is authentically Trinitarian, as opposed to a unitarian-existential view of worship that pervades much the church today, evangelicalism included.

What my professor is arguing for is that for worship to be truly trinitarian and faithful to the contours of the book of Hebrews, we must view God as not only the object, but also the subject of worship.

I agree with Him for the most part; i still have a few misgivings, but by and large i think that he is on track.  I see his perspective as providing the criteria by which we evaluate our worship services.  Foundationally, we have to ask ourselves if our worship is pointing people to the real worship leader?  Questions of relevance, efficiency, and effectiveness, while important, must never detract from this central concern.

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2 responses to “God-Centered Worship is Heresy

  1. Derek,

    It seems to me that what seems to be advocated by your professor here is still that Augustinian view of the trinity in which the spirit is only a connector between God the Father and God the Son, and in this case, for us to the Son and then Son to the Father. This does not, in my view, constitute a true trinitarian worship.

    On the positive side, of course I appreciate that he is bringing this problem to the helm of our discussion. David Clark said the same thing in one of our classes in relation to prayer, mentioning that our prayers are not trinitarian in nature. Rather, we pray to God the Father in the name of the Son with little to no recognition of the Spirit, accept as something that God can move through (e.g. “God, impower me through your spirit to…”).

  2. Hey Aaron,

    Thanks for the comment. I agree with your perception that my professor is operating out of an Augustinian conception of the Trinity. That is one of my “misgivings” about his view.

    However, it seems to me that we cannot argue against his basic idea of the Spirit drawing us into the relationship of the Father and the Son. This seems to be what we find consistently in the Gospels. To me, i think that we shouldn’t try to discard this idea, but rather exand upon it. i haven’t thought through this all the way yet, but maybe we should not try to replace the idea of the Spirit’s role as the “cab driver” into the relationship between Father and Son, but rather seek to integrate that idea with the more personal characteristics of the Spirit into our understanding. You know, have our cake and eat it to.

    Thanks as always for the dialogue brother.

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