Celestial Committee Meeting or Divine Audience?

We must be prepared to admit that our tradition of worship has tended to a cold intellectualism.  . . . . There is lacking today the profound sense of the mystery of the Almighty that possessed the Reformers, and our services undoubtedly suffer from an oppressive intellectual familiarity, as if worship consisted in the interchange of certain religious ideas. The most deplorable aspect of most of our . . . worship today is the lack of a spirit of reverence and adoration. It is difficult to believe that people who chatter up to the opening words of a service, and reach for their hats the moment the Benediction is pronounced, and in between are comfortably seated throughout prayers in an attitude of polite inattention, are really seized with the idea of the presence of the glory of the Eternal.  In particular our . . . intellectualism has fostered, when the vivid awareness of the divine sovereignty has grown dim, a type of service more like a kind of celestial committee-meeting than the worship of Almighty God.

–The Rev. D.H.C. Read, “The Reformation of Worship. Part III: The Direction of Contemporary Worship,” Scottish Journal of Theology 8:3 (Sept. 1955), 280.

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Participatory Worship

The aim of the Reformation was not the abolition of the priesthood but the abolition of the laity. Every Christian was to realize his priesthood: ‘Ye are a chosen generation; a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.’ This is the Biblical conception of worship—an offering of the entire congregation in praise and adoration.

–The Rev. D.H.C. Read, “The Reformation of Worship. Part III: The Direction of Contemporary Worship,” Scottish Journal of Theology 8:3 (Sept. 1955), 285