Old Things

The content of public worship is of immense importance. Writing in a different context, P. T. Forsyth said, “The preacher is not there to astonish people with the unheard of, he is there to revive them in what they have long heard.” What is so for preaching—which is in itself an act of worship which is foundational to any public assembly for worship—is also true for the context in which preaching takes place. Every element of the public worship of the people of God must communicate the true content of the faith, which finds its focus on the person and work of Jesus the Messiah.

—Noel Due, Created for Worship, 235

A Means to an End

The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing. These things—the beauty, the memory of our own past—are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself, they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshippers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited.

—C. S. Lewis, “The Weight of Glory”

Music is a wonderful tool. But it makes a terrible god.

Bob Kauflin, Worship Matters Jul 7, 2017

The Neglected Trinity (17)

By rehearsing God’s actions in history, the church ensures that its worship is not directed to a hazy or vaguely defined god derived from philosophical or cultural ideals, but to the God who is active in specific ways in history, especially in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth and the creating and sustaining work of the Holy Spirit.

——John D. Witvliet, The Doctrine of the Trinity and the Theology and Practice of Christian Worship in the Reformed Tradition (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Notre Dame, 1997), 296

The Neglected Trinity (16)

Through the liturgy of the church, God comes to, speaks to, and joins with the worshiping community in Jesus Christ through the power the Spirit, and worshipers offer a response which is inspired by the Spirit and is united to the prayers and worship of Jesus Christ. In this way, a trinitarian theology of worship calls worshipers not to generate their own proclamation about God nor to muster up their own acclamation to God, but rather to receive the gift of the Word of God and to participate in the worship offered by Jesus Christ through the work of the Holy Spirit. This understanding of liturgy commends liturgical actions which acknowledge the mediation of Christ and the Holy Spirit, and reflect the joy, confidence, and gratitude that is a fitting response to gifts of divine grace.

—John D. Witvliet, The Doctrine of the Trinity and the Theology and Practice of Christian Worship in the Reformed Tradition (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Notre Dame, 1997), 297

The Neglected Trinity (15)

The doctrine of the Trinity highlights the perfect unity of purpose, will, and mission of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, expressed through their distinct roles in the economy of salvation. Through union with Christ in communion with the Holy Spirit, human beings are invited to share in this life of joyful relationality, shared purpose, and other-directed love.

—John D. Witvliet, The Doctrine of the Trinity and the Theology and Practice of Christian Worship in the Reformed Tradition (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Notre Dame, 1997), 295

The Neglected Trinity (11)

Communities and individual worshipers who participate in fully trinitarian worship are formed over time to set aside any vague, hazy, quasi-deist, subtrinitarian way of construing God and to embrace a much more vibrant, grace-filled, life-giving trinitarian way. . . . The doctrine of the Trinity is not merely a set of abstract ideas. Rather, it is a description of the reality in which we live, move and have our being. As such, it shapes— indeed, it unsettles and transforms—how we approach basic practices of prayer, Bible reading, evangelism and community life.

—John D. Witvliet, “What to Do with Our Renewed Trinitarian Enthusiasm: Forming Trinitarian Piety and Imagination through Worship and Catechesis,” in Trinitarian Theology for the Church: Scripture, Community, Worship, 245-6

The Neglected Trinity (8)

Trinitarian worship enacts, reflects and savors the relationality or communion that comprises both divine life and the Christian life. The doctrine of the Trinity offers a vision of each that is fundamentally relational and interpersonal. . . . Christian worship is not obeisance by which we appease a divine tyrant. We do not sing loud or pray hard in order to generate divine favor—the perfect theology of worship if we wanted to worship Baal. Worship, rather, is the joyful and solemn exchange of gifts.

—John D. Witvliet, “What to Do with Our Renewed Trinitarian Enthusiasm: Forming Trinitarian Piety and Imagination through Worship and Catechesis,” in Trinitarian Theology for the Church: Scripture, Community, Worship, 241-2