Worship in Romans (17)

The Gospel of the Glory of God is always very near to mankind, and yet always very far from them: near, because the divine image is in mankind and the Gospel is the true meaning of man; far, because it is heard only by a faith and a repentance which overthrow all man’s glorying in himself and his works. [Romans 1:21]

—Arthur Michael Ramsey, The Glory of God and the Transfiguration of Christ, 100

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Worship in Romans (13)

As Karl Barth says, the wrath of God, the “no” of God against our sin in Romans 1, is the “next-to-last word.” And the next-to-last word is for the sake of the last word, the “yes” of the gospel. Realignment comes first with the atoning work of Christ in Romans 3, the resulting new life in the Spirit in Romans 6-8, finding our place in God’s story in Romans 9-11, and the resulting new community in Romans 12-16.

—Don Williams, “A Charismatic Worship Response,” in Exploring the Worship Spectrum, 245

The Bottom Line

The Christian church is deeply divided into communities that rehearse different histories and embody divergent aesthetic preferences. Any lasting cease-fire in these worship wars is not likely to emerge from a resolution of the so-called culture wars which feed them, or from large-scale conversions of taste, or from carefully buttressed historical arguments about ancient liturgical precedents. Finally, such a cease-fire can only issue from the depth and mystery of the gospel which Christians proclaim. Christian worship is strongest when it is integrally and self-consciously related to the person and work of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. The study of Christian worship is most helpful to Christian communities when it demonstrates how this has happened in the past and how it might happen in the future in more profound ways.

—John D. Witvliet, “The Trinitarian DNA of Christian Worship: Perennial Themes in Recent Theological Literature,” 18

Worship & Culture 2

The gospel ought never to be entirely at home in any culture. If gospel and culture fit together as easily as hand-in-glove, then the likelihood is that the gospel has capitulated to the values of the culture.… There must always be some tension between gospel and culture. The trick is to tune that tension just right, so that gospel and church can play a transforming role in its host culture. The gospel doesn’t carry with it a culture of its own.  It must always find its place in the culture of the time and place. Nevertheless, it always questions the local culture and holds it accountable before the cross.

—Ronald P. Byars, Christian Worship: Glorifying and Enjoying God, 110