Theology and Worship

I think that Athanasius was correct that Christian theology and worship should be required to have some genuinely mutual relationship.  This means that debates among theologians about God and Christology are not simply about intellectual issues but also have to do with the central devotional practice of Christian churches.

—Larry W. Hurtado, At the Origins of Christian Worship, 102

The Alpha and Omega of Worship

There is no work of God in which the members of the Trinity are not jointly operative.  This is true of creation, redemption and worship. It is by the perfecting causality of the Spirit that the Church’s worship offered in the Son reaches the Father. As a perfecter, the Spirit leads us to the Son, through whom our being and our act (worship) have free access to the Fatherly sanctuary in the same Godhead. Only Spirit-perfected worship is true worship. Not only the Spirit joined through the Son to the Father is the proper object, but also the causative agency of worship, the one who exalts the community in Christ to the heavenly throne of the Father. . . . Worship as such is a gift of grace: what God begins in us He shall complete. God is the alpha and the omega of worship.

—Ngien, Dennis.  Gifted Response: The Triune God as the Causative Agency of our Responsive Worship, 32-33

Worship in Revelation (14)

This is, I think, a very significant thing in the NT, and certainly here in Revelation chapter 5—if the goal of worship is to admire Him in all of His majesty and to cast our crowns before Him and crown Him Lord of all, then notice that in this portrayal of worship, all worship flows from Christ’s leadership and through Christ’s mediation. Isn’t it interesting that John sees the Lion/Lamb standing right at the front of the throne of God, and from Him the Spirit of God flowing to all those who are present in heaven’s glory—as though to say, your worship of the One who is seated on the throne need first of all to be conducted by the One who stands at the front of the throne. And it always need to come through the Spirit by the Son to the One who is seated on the throne. Because, as we have noticed already, He is not only the Mediator of our reconciliation; He is the Mediator of our adoration in worship.

—Sinclair Ferguson, “The Church’s Worship” (audio message: Ligonier Conference, 2006)

Worship in Romans (16)

The world, be it in its totality as cosmos, or in its life and becoming as time and history, is an epiphany of God, a means of His revelation, presence, and power. In other words, it not only “posits” the idea as a rationally acceptable cause of its existence, but truly “speaks” of Him and is itself an essential means both of knowledge of God [Romans 1:19-20] and communion with Him [1:21a], and to be so is its true nature and its ultimate destiny. But then worship is truly an essential act, and man an essentially worshiping being, for it is only in worship that man has the source and the possibility of that knowledge which fulfills itself as true knowledge: knowledge of God and therefore knowledge of the world—communion with God and therefore communion with all that exists. Thus the very notion of worship is based on an intuition and experience of the world as an “epiphany” of God, thus the world—in worship—is revealed in its true nature and vocation as “sacrament.”

—Alexander Schmemann, “Worship in a Secular Age,” in An Eerdmans Reader in Contemporary Political Theology, 107-8

The Blessed Tri-Unity 5

Despite their orthodox confession of the Trinity, Christians are, in practical life, almost mere “monotheists.” We must be willing to admit that, should the doctrine of the Trinity have to be dropped as false, the major part of religious literature could well remain virtually unchanged.  [AND the major part of worship???]

—Karl Rahner, “The Trinity” in A Map of Twentieth-Century Theologians: Readings from Karl Barth to Radical Pluralism, 190

The Blessed Tri-Unity 4

The Trinity is not a doctrine, not a sacred teaching or formula or analogy or geometry. Jesus Christ the Son of God reveals the hidden Life He shares from eternity with the Father and Spirit. Jesus only says what He hears His Father saying. Jesus only does what He sees His Father doing. And the Spirit is everywhere making manifest the inseparability of the Father and Son as One God with Them. 

The One God is the “us” in whose image we are made. The One God is the voice Isaiah hears ask the question “Who will go for US?” The One God is present as Son and Dove and Father as Jesus is baptized by John. And so on. The Trinity is known because God acts and speaks in the world they make and the world they love and the world they seek to save as the Father from all eternity sends the Son and “thereafter” (only from our vantage, for there is no before or after in God) sends the Spirit. 

Trinity is what we humans name this revelation in actions and words of the triune nature of the One Love that simply was and is and is to come. God is not words on a page but a divine community of relations that seeks to make us participants by grace in Their eternal way of life, in Their nature. All of this is partial and all of this is “through a glass darkly” but we stammer anyway our worship and our praise. What we don’t do is worship an idea about God. We worship the Triune God of Life who shows us His face in Jesus. 

—Fr. Kenneth Tanner (