I did a bit of Hebrew and Greek study of the words for "worship"--Hebrew "Schachah" (Strong's 7812) and Greek proskyneo and sebomai, and I learned a few things that might make a very strong point in the "worship wars" of whether hymns, meeting and revival songs, or modern praise music ought to be used in worship.
The verdict I come to--and failed to arrive at in these earlier posts about worship and music--is that none of these forms ought to be used in worship, properly speaking. No, I'm not urging Bach's cantatas and toccatas, Gregorian chants or the Orthodox equivalent, or even the singing of the metric Psalms--though I would be quite happy with these in church services, assuming the lyrics are orthodox.
Rather, the point is that worship, strictly speaking, does not refer to music. It refers to bowing down before one who is acknowledged as superior, more or less utter submission in its implications. Sometimes--as when Abraham talks about going to Mt. Moriah to worship--it can quietly refer to sacrifice, but it does not refer to music in the Temple, in the synagogue, or at church.
It is not always used with reference to the God of Abraham, but can be used with reference to pagan "deities." About 3/4 of the time that "schachah" is used in reference to false gods, however, it is used this way--"to serve, and to worship" It seems to imply that while one can simply fall down prostrate before God Almighty, some service must be rendered to the demons before one can submit to them. One might suggest that it's a parallel of the Protestant doctrines of sola fide, sola gratia, and Solus Christus. God did it all for us, therefore we can simply bow down before Him and worship.
Moreover, I wonder if there is a great treasure to be gained if Bible believers would only regain the proper doctrine of worship. We seem to "mess around" a lot with music, prayer, skits, preaching, dance, offerings....but none of these are, strictly speaking, worship. What would God do in our times of singing, prayer, preaching, offerings, and the like if only....we got out of the way at the beginning of each church meeting for a time when we could bow down and worship?
What if Protestant churches provided a way--yes, I'm thinking something akin to Catholic "kneelers" or the Pilgrim times of solemn humiliation--for the congregation to kneel and assume a posture of utter submission, a posture of worship? What if we learned to walk into the auditorium with a hushed silence--yes those great old tall churches are wonderful for this--and assume an attitude of worship?
What would happen to the evangelical heresies of today--I am thinking specifically of evangelical feminism, among other heresies--if we understood worship as it truly is, as the pure and utter submission of the Church to Her Savior, of the Son to the Father.....and thus of a wife to her husband, a child to his father, and the like? After all, Christ does not bow down to the Church, no?
So if you're asked about your position about the "worship wars", just let them know; worship isn't about music. It's about our solemn humiliation and submission before God. And once we get this down, then we might be able to think more clearly about lesser matters like music.
The Blessings of Longevity - I’ve been serving as the pastor of Cornerstone Evangelical Free Church since November of 1997. That’s 17 years for you who might not be proficient at math....
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