Sharing Life

Sharing life with others, whatever the cost, is God’s own way of being. That is the identity of God disclosed in the life and death of Jesus Christ and articulated in the doctrine of the Trinity.

—John Witvliet, The Doctrine of the Trinity and the Theology and Practice of Christian Worship in the Reformed Tradition (dissertation), 279

Depth and Mystery

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 in the power of the Holy Spirit. The study of Christian worship is most helpful to Christian communities when it demonstrated how this has happened in the past and how it might happen in the future in more profound ways.

—John Witvliet, The Doctrine of the Trinity and the Theology and Practice of Christian Worship in the Reformed Tradition (dissertation), Page 304-305

I-Thou

Christian worship is not awe in the face of an irresistible and unresponsive Power, nor is it the attempt to manipulate by magic or placate by offerings remote deities or the forces of nature. Christian worship is an ‘I-Thou’, not an ‘I-It’ relationship. 

—John D. Witvliet, The Doctrine of the Trinity and the Theology and Practice of Christian Worship in the Reformed Tradition (dissertation), 161 

Mutuality

What is exemplary about divine life is not three-in-oneness in the mathematical sense, not some abstract notion of a pristine community, but personal relationships that are marked by transparency, common purpose, and mutuality.  In the economy of the kingdom of God, these virtues replace both alienation and domination as the customary marks of personal relationships.

—John Witvliet, The Doctrine of the Trinity and the Theology and Practice of Christian Worship in the Reformed Tradition (dissertation), 258-59

Worship in the Spirit

Christian worship is inspired by the Spirit, empowered by the Spirit, directed by the Spirit, purified by the Spirit and bears the fruit of the Spirit. Christian worship is Spirit-filled. . . . It is the Holy Spirit who purifies our worship by his continual work of sanctification. By purifying the worshipers the worship is made pure. When we worship, having our minds enlightened by the Spirit, our lives changed by the Spirit, our wills moved by the Spirit, and our hearts warmed by the Spirit, then our worship is transformed from being a mere human work into being a divine work.

—John Witvliet, The Doctrine of the Trinity and the Theology and Practice of Christian Worship in the Reformed Tradition (dissertation), 219-220

Worship as a Window

Think of worship as a window. . . . The temptation we face as worship leaders is that we will spend so much energy dressing this window, repairing this window, or cleaning this window that we have no time to look through it.

Bread, wine, water, music are not just to look at, but to look through.

—John Witvliet, “On Divine Glory: An Expanded Conversation on the Conference Theme,” (Calvin Symposium on Worship Jan. 2007), 2

Leaving Worship

It is so easy to walk out of church (or a worship conference) thinking about mostly how interesting the sermon was, how engaging the music and art were, how good or not-so-good the hospitality and fellowship might have been. How many of us leave worship genuinely pondering the sheer beauty and glory of God?

—John Witvliet, “On Divine Glory: An Expanded Conversation on the Conference Theme” (Calvin Symposium on Worship Jan. 2007), 2