What has Theology to do with Worship?

Canton, OH

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During the 1990s, many Christian churches were engaged in a sometimes fierce form of civil-war over worship music. Whereas the older generations were accumstomed to classic hymns played on pianos and organs, the Baby Boomers were leading younger generations in a push for more contemporary music, which often took the form of "praise choruses," made popular by a growing Christian subculture and especially the christian pop-music industry. I was in my 20s at the time, and I remember, well, the battles that raged in my own home church of Calvary Baptist in McAllen, Texas. I was on the side of "contemporary" music at the time, and there is little doubt that my side won that particualr battle in that particular church.

And by the looks of things today, it seems that similar battles were waged and won in churches around the country. Clearly, contemporary worship has become commonplace and perhaps even the norm, especailly among Protestnat evangelicals. However, I am not inclined to think that any worthwhile battle has been truly won.  It seems, instead that the worship wars emerged in a climate of general confusion about the nature and meaning of Christian worship and that this confusion is even more widespread today.

The problem, stated succinctly, is that worhsip is a theological issue before it is a musical issue. Worship and music are not synonyms. If our theology of worship is sound and allowed to influence the substance of worship, then a variety of musical styles can be appropriate. However, if our theology of worhsip is unsound, or perhaps missing entirely, then changes in style won't accomplish much of importance.

If this subject interests you, then please join us for a lecture and discussion that will attempt to answer the question: what does theology have to do with worship?

The discussion will address the following questions, among others:

  1. What does the english word "worship" actually mean, and what are its biblical origins?
  2. How does gathered worship on a specific day relate to the spiritual worship of those who offer themselves to God as living sacrifices? (Rom. 12:1) 
  3. How did Christians in past generations worship, and what can we learn from them, if anything?
  4. What is the difference between "liturgical" and "non-liturgical" worship? 
  5. What role does/should the Bible play in Christian worship?