Conserving Biblical Worship -1

Conservative Christians conserve biblical worship. We find ourselves in the midst of ‘the worship wars’, an ongoing conflict between Christians about what constitutes biblical worship and what does not. You probably won’t hear as much jargon, clichéd statements and ill-informed musings on any other subject as you will on the topic of worship when modern Western Christians talk about it. Every man is right in his own eyes; every man feels his worship is fitting and is ready to defend his current practice.

What we are witnessing is the harvest of two centuries of abandoning the piety taught in Christian tradition and culture. As Richard Weaver put it, the true bond of community is sentiment. That is, we are held together in fellowship primarily because we love the same things, and we love them in the same way. With the abandoning of a common sentiment as to what it means to worship God, in favour of modernism’s entertainment worship or target market or consumerist approach to worship, we have cut loose from the moorings of centuries of Christian worship, and are now drifting the currents of our own whims, appetites, rationalisations and popular fads. As we are tossed to and fro, we put on brave faces and claim we are ‘balanced’, and ‘relevant’ or ‘traditional’ (!), but in fact, Christians of just two hundred years ago would be very estranged in our worship services.

To conserve the gospel and the whole counsel of God and abandon the battle for biblical worship is to struggle valiantly to win the road and then surrender or flee when it comes to the destination. After all, while the gospel is the boundary of the Christian life, and the whole counsel of God is the life within that boundary, they all aim at one thing: to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. In other words, the gospel and the whole counsel of God are means towards the final end: worship. Why men will fight so hard for means, only to abandon ship when it comes to ends is an enigma. All that doctrine aims at one thing: loving God ordinately.

Worship, along with the affections, is one of the hardest battles to fight. When we contend for the gospel and the whole counsel of God, we find many allies amongst evangelicals and fundamentalists. But once we begin calling for biblical worship, the consensus breaks up, people begin mumbling under their breaths, and the crowd thins out. In the atmosphere of post-modernism, it is not surprising that Christians doubt that there is such a thing as biblical worship. The fact that it is unsurprising does not mean it is tolerable. Conservative Christians fight to conserve and restore biblical worship.

How do conservative Christians conserve biblical worship?
First, they do so by understanding and teaching that there is worship which pleases God and worship that does not. Worship that does not please God is ultimately an act of self-indulgence, and idolatry. In the same way, there is a vast difference between worship and entertainment, and conservative Christians can tell the difference.

Second, by understanding and teaching that the worship which pleases God has always been the worship that He prescribes. He does not call for innovation, improvisation, omission or otherwise tinkering with the form in which He calls to be worshipped. Conservatives understand the meaning and the application of the Regulative principle.

Third, by learning what are the prescribed elements of worship for New Testament Christians.

Fourth, by repudiating worship innovations, old and new, and re-introducing elements long neglected.

Fifth, by giving careful thought to the circumstances surrounding the prescribed elements- how they should be applied and fleshed out in private and corporate worship.

Conservative Christians fight to restore what is most precious to us: the true and fitting worship of our great God.

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