1. John Donnell
    February 5, 2011 @ 3:51 pm

    Good collection Matt.

    I would challenge President Wilson’s opinions on many things, and this instance is no different. I think that perhaps that while he was probably aware of the ascetic traditions within Christianity and the poor and hungry that have embraced Christianity, his desire for specific societal manifestations of God’s Kingdom lead him to overlook those manifestations of Christian practice. Mr. Wilson’s honorable desire to feed the hungry leads him to overlook man’s capability to honor God through self-denial and in dire economic circumstances.

    As for Mr. Smith’s perspective, I would wish that such a significant Christian artist would be able to describe a philosophy of his art that saw all of his endeavors as worship of one form or another. Perhaps he does elsewhere; it is only a sentence.

    Dostoevsky is, as usual, able to see remarkably clearly into the depths of the depraved human heart. How easy it is for me to find something or someone other than God to worship.

    I think Mr. Graham’s quote might be the one I have the most issue with. As a biblical example of a man after the Lord’s own heart shows someone hugely concerned with musical composition and practice, I find it hard to grade another form of worship as ‘higher.’ I think that worship should more properly be seen like sin: no form is inherently better or worse, gradations of separation from God aren’t really there. So I would argue that once a thing is authentic worship, in spirit and in truth, it is as great a praise as any other form. All forms of worship end up being obedience to God in one way or another; I’m having a hard time thinking of any biblical justification to classify some forms as higher or greater. All the examples I can think of show that the obedient practitioner in question will end up reflecting God in different ways based on the form their obedience takes (Sermon on the Mount, Crowns in Revelation).


  2. Allen Calhoun
    February 5, 2011 @ 9:35 pm

    I started reflecting on the meaning of the word “worship” a few years ago. At the time, I was dealing with a lot of brokenness in my life and was a participant in a ministry that valued worship. I began to realize, to my surprise, that the act of worship had become the most important part of my healing.

    The English word “worship” literally means the act of ascribing worth to something. In other words, worship is the act of giving everything around us its proper worth, and giving God the highest worth of all. By giving God his proper worth, we order our lives. Things fall into the right priorities. What is most important we call most important, and what is least important we call least important. Worship has helped me put my struggles in their place, naming them as neither more important nor less important than they are. It has helped me subordinate my struggles to my identity—not my identity as the world names it, but my identity in the sight of God.

    My thinking about worship was influenced by a couple of books by N.T. Wright, particularly by Simply Christian. Wright explains that the book describes the universal but universally broken human longing as we all hear “echoes of a voice,” which are things like beauty and justice and love. Then he describes how Christianity is unique among religions in answering the universal longings for such things in that it does not picture God’s space as entirely remote from our space, or God’s space as entirely equal to our space, but talks about God’s space invading our space and overlapping a bit of it. The overlapping space in the Old Testament was the tabernacle and then the Temple, and in the New Testament it is the incarnation. This overlapping space, particularly in the incarnation, Wright says, is the launching of God’s “kingdom project,” in which God has begun to make all things new. So, Wright asks, what do we do in response? We pray (he says), we proclaim the Word of God. But above all we worship. Worship is the right response to this intersection of God’s space and ours, in which the new creation is beginning, because we become like what we worship.

    I came to realize that worship is the mechanism—or one of the most important mechanisms—by which God makes all things new in my life. It is the way things are put in order and the agent of change and of redemption. So I am grateful to Restoration for making worship central to the life of the church and to Matt for posting these quotes and stirring up thoughts about worship.


  3. Liz
    February 6, 2011 @ 10:19 am

    REALLY dislike the Woodrow Wilson quote…. actually quite like the Billy Graham one – though I would remove the ‘highest’ and put ‘a high’.
    Thanks for making us think!


  4. Matthew Hoppe
    February 7, 2011 @ 12:33 pm

    Allen, I especially liked what you said concerning proper order.

    “By giving God his proper worth, we order our lives. Things fall into the right priorities. What is most important we call most important, and what is least important we call least important.”

    David Hanke and Tim Keller (I think Keller stole some stuff) both talked about sin in regards to “ultimates.” If you make something other than God your ultimate, that is sin. So if Dostoevsky is correct about a human’s constant craving for something to worship, and Hanke and Keller are right about ultimates and sin, and this concept of worship of properly ordering God and his will as our ultimate is solid, the very absence of worship would be a life of sin and vice versa.

    Could that be right?

    This ties in with Hebrews when it tells us to present our bodies as living and holy sacrifices to the Lord for this is our spiritual act of worship. It also fits with the Psalms when they talk about God desiring obedience more than sacrifice.



  5. Matthew Hoppe
    February 7, 2011 @ 12:34 pm

    Liz, why did you hate the Wilson quote?


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