REFORMATION 500: Sola Scriptura

I am a creature of a day, passing through life as an arrow through the air. I am a spirit come from God, and returning to God: Just hovering over the great gulf; till, a few moments hence, I am no more seen; I drop into an unchangeable eternity! I want to know one thing—the way to heaven; how to land safe on that happy shore. God himself has condescended to teach the way: For this very end he came from heaven. He hath written it down in a book. O give me that book! At any price, give me the book of God! I have it: Here is knowledge enough for me. Let me be homo unius libri. [A man of one book.]

—John Wesley

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REFORMATION 500: Sola Scriptura

And the Reformers were clear that in order to control and check the movement of Christian tradition from age to age a norm was needed.  That norm was the written Word, and so the Bible was for them the supreme “given” element in the Church and the final authority for all our forms of worship.

—Rev. D. H. C. Read, “The Reformation of Worship,” Scottish Journal of Theology 8:1 (March 1955):73

The Centrality of the Word

In every task of the church, the ministry of the Word of God is central. It is the Word that calls us to worship, addresses us in worship, teaches us how to worship and enables us to praise God and to encourage one another. By the Word we are given life and nurtured to maturity in Christ: the Word is the sword of the Spirit to correct us and the bread of the Spirit to feed us. In the mission of the church, it is the Word of God that calls the nations to the Lord: in the teaching of the Word we make disciples of the nations. The growth of the church is the growth of the Word (Acts 6:7; 12:24; 19:20): where there is a famine of the Word, no expertise in business administration or group dynamics will build Christ’s church.

—Edmund P. Clowney, The Church, 199

Keeping the Main Thing The Main Thing

The content of public worship is of immense importance. 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 . . . 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

Revelation and Worship

“Right belief’”about God is intimately connected to “right worship” because believing right things about God is an essential component in honouring God appropriately.  This is why Christians speak of right belief about God as “orthodoxy,” which means “right glory.”  If we are to give God the glory He deserves, we need to think and speak rightly about God

–Robin Parry, Worshiping Trinity: Coming Back to the Heart of Worship, 8

Theology and Worship

Good church musicians constantly ask whether the “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs” of the church’s worship are sung “so that the Word of God may dwell in us richly” (the forgotten purpose clause of Col. 3:16). Good liturgical musicians worry about the link between theology and worship:  whether worship in their church depicts God as only indifferent and far removed; whether it gives the impression that prayer is simply an act of cognition, or conversely, an act of pure emotion; whether worship in their congregation makes it clear that the Bible is central to the life and faith of the church. The good ones, as I describe more fully elsewhere, know that worship expresses the deepest theological convictions of the community and that it reveals as much about the belief of the community as do catechisms and confessions.

–John D. Witvliet,  “Training Church Musicians as Pastoral Liturgists,” Musicians for the Churches: Reflections on Vocation and Formation (2001, Institute of Sacred Music at Yale University, New Haven CT), p.18.