Is Blended Worship Possible in the 21st Century, Research Paper Example
Words: 2379Research Paper
The question is asked whether blended worship is possible in the 21st century church culture. It must be understood that withinChristian denominations attempts have been made to collaborate worship styles/patterns many decades now. Perhaps, the shift in worship style across the world may be a type of blend, which theologians have not yet recognized. For example, the Seeker Service worship style is considered a new evangelical approach. According to evangelist Ruth Vander Hart1 no longer are churches catering to their congregations, but moving into the community. Essentially, many people who enter the doors of a traditional Seeker Worship type church seldom have a church home. As such, an attractive worship style ‘will bring them in.’ More importantly, it is believed that a Praise and Worship culture has the ability towards greater expression. It is this researcher’s perspective that while both patterns cater to different groups of people a blend would create the perfect appropriation for expression leading to spiritual growth and development of the worshiper.
In embracing the biblical foundations of worship one must remember that it was intended to give humans an opportunity of making contact between their inner being and external spiritual forces linking them to the universe.2 This unique expression cannot be accomplished through prayer alone or any other form of spiritual communication. Precisely, the word ‘worship’ was derived from ‘worthy’ meaning to give honor. From a critical parading it could mean giving honor to one’s self or reverence to an entity considered sacred/supreme 3. According to accounts offered in The theology of Christian worship significantly passages of scripture in the old as well as New Testament provideevidence of praise as being a widely practiced worship pattern3. For example,numerous praise poems can be found in the psalms. They relate adoration/honor to the God of creation exalting God’s phenomenal accomplishments in the lives of humans; thankfulness for salvation, protection and redemption4.
In the New Testament praise takes the form of doxologies emerging from the Greek doxa and logos. Doxa is interpreted as praise, honor and glory. Logos denotes word/ saying. Examples of New Testament doxologies include the Lord’s Prayer found in Matthew 6: 13. Others are sung by angels at the birth of Jesus, ‘Glory to God in the highest….’ found in Luke 2:14. Jude chapters 24 and 25 carry the longest New Testament doxologies. Precisely, praise could be considered the biblical foundation of Christian worship. 5
Then, from where did these other worship forms emerge. If we are saying that the intentionworship is to give humans an opportunity of making contact between their inner being and external spiritual forces linking them to the universe could it be that praise though doxology may just not be enough?6 From the biblical worship paradigms explored so far are we saying that worship embraces only adoration to God? What about the Holy Spirit God presence which is found in every human expression. Is it that praise worship from its biblical foundation addresses mainly expression to the universe God outside of humans and not Holy Spirit inside of them?
Could there have been a disconnection between the God in me (Holy Spirit) theology of Christian worship and the God of creation (Universe God) praise, which is responsible for the revolution worship styles experienced in the twenty-first century church worship identified as charismatic/ Calvinism. Some religious analysts have classified it neither praise and worship or seeker worship. Perhaps, it is a blend. In fact they are still critical of its impact on the Christian community and challenge the biblical foundation.7
At this point in the research discussion, inevitably, King David’s dance before the Ark of thecovenant must be explored as a biblical foundation for worship connecting the inner and outer demonstrations of praise. According to Bible commentators liturgical dance as a form of worship was common in ancient times and non-western settings. King David’s dance was considered liturgical. Further, dancing in worship has been traced to the Hebrew religious tradition where numerous accounts of dancing as a form of praise worship was highlighted. 8
Again for emphasis a pronounced indecent, which cannot be over sighted by theologians is King David danced before the Ark of the Covenant (2 Sam 6:14). However, this dancing episode for cultural reasons was referenced outside of Jewish norms and rabbinic rituals since it was considered unacceptable.9 With the same dance resentment extension Christian religious especially, some Catholic churches denounce this as a form of praise worship based on their culture, but this doctrine has no biblical foundation.
More importantly, supportive of the biblical foundations of dance praise worship, both contemporary and classical theologians contend that in ancient Israel victory; ecstatic and folk dances were all inculcated into religious rituals.It was accompanied by drum music associated with military victorypraises as heroes were welcomed home after escaping enemies. After the triumphant Red Sea crossingprophetess Miriam, Aaron‘s sister and the women in her clan danced in praise before the Lord for their victory. They used a timbrels for music (Ex. 15:20, 21). 10
Precisely, David’s dance before the ark was considered ecstatic dancing.Significantly, biblical evidence of music inspiring ecstasy and prophetic vision is linked to King Saul’s exodus to the hill of God. There he met a group of religious people prophesizing and dancing accompaniedby numerous pieces of instruments.According to accounts offered inMishnah while the festival of Tabernacles was being observed daily processions were made around the altar in the Temple after sacrifices were offered. A celebrationclimax wasachieved when devotees/worshipers became filled with the spirit and danced at the water-drawing festival. This was considered an experience related to the joy of life.11Therefore, while both worship patterns cater to different groups of people a blend would create the perfect appropriation for expression leading to spiritual growth and development of the worshiper.
The Praise and Worship Movement and its historical connection to the Charismatic Movement cannot be underestimated. Religious scientists argue that its history and theological foundations are Pentecostalin identifying specific contributions of the Charismatic Movement to modern worship practice.Pastor Gary Gilley of Southern View Chapel, Springfield, IL said in his account ‘History of the Charismatic Movement’ that what was at some time was regarded as the Pentecostal movement has now dispersed into many distinct yet diverse portions‘ overlapping movements such Pentecostal, Charismatic, Vineyard, Word-Faith, and Holy Laughter.’ 12
This theologian traced the charismatic movement as having its biblical foundations in Greek and Egyptian religious philosophies. However, twentieth century Christians experienced a wave of the movement advanced by religious elites such as Oral Roberts, Larry Lea, Earl Paulk, Dick Iverson, Kenneth Copeland, Kenneth Hagin and Bob Tilton just to name a few. In the twenty-first century these elites are proclaiming the movement to be over since it has served its purpose. A call of reversion is out towards a Joshua Generation wherebythe clouds which led them by day and night have disappeared.13
Essentially, this has herald a period of enlightenment propelling leaders into a deeper form of spiritual worship style. These modern blends of Charismatics are claiming that a new move of God is sweeping the earth. It must be recognized, however, that the Pentecostal revolution of the early 1960s has played an important part in charismatic worship styles. The focus was on baptism of the Holy Spirit, which could be linked to the festival of Tabernacles worship styles when devotees were filled with the Spirit.14
Precise accounts of Pentecostalism renewal/ restoration movement is that it was filling a human worship void which existed in a ceremonial praise formula, which did allow them to make contact between their inner being and external spiritual forces that would effectively them to the universe. As such, by the later twentieth century the yearning for magical divine healing and deliverance in worship submerged the desire for spirit possession and manifestation.15
Worship styles according to religious analysts are reverting in some religious cultures to Calvinism, which is considered to be a progressive and dominant perspective. Greg Horton claims that its doctrine is dividing the Southern Baptist Convention. The pastor explained that this doctrine domain was predominantly practiced by Reformed churches such as Presbyterians. However, with the advents of New Charismatics reverting into the Joshua Generation whereby a spiritual reformation is on its way perhaps a more worship form is emerging.16
Practical Considerations—problems and practical solutions
Despite contemporary Calvinism emergence as the church struggle through the ages for spiritual expression through worship it is clear that there needs to be a blend in worships styles allowing spiritual expression in the form of dance, speaking in tongues; healing as well as silence. Controversial new thought Christians, many whom have walked away from literal interpretations of the bible have rightly advanced that God is spirit. If humans were made in the image and likeness of God, then irrespective of their expression they are spirit too. Precisely, if this world was created by spirit it is a spiritual world. 17
Importantly, every stratum of existence functions through laws. There are physical laws which operate within the human body producing life. Also, there are laws of gravity; physics, chemistry and spiritual laws which hold the universe in place. Therefore, man as a spiritual being is perpetually seeking to find that missing part of him/herself. Worship provides that realization. God asks that humans worship in spirit and truth. Essentially, truth pertains to an individual’s perception of God as spirit. This has nothing to do with doctrine, but rather a relationship with God as spirit. 18
Consequently, blended worship is possible in the 21st century sinceboth worship patterns cater to different groups of people a blend would create the perfect appropriation for expression leading to spiritual growth and development of the worshiper. It must be realized that there are levels of worship. Praise andjollification through dancing has it place, but there is not where worship begins neither ends. It is true that Pentecostals and charismatics seem to forget the silent communication with God. As such, Calvinism seems to be taking the church back to that missing space. 19
Sadly, the problem lies in blending jollification with silence and modern religious science has not been successful in creating these opportunities for worshipers. My recommendation is that churches develop a pattern of worship targeting the silent manifestation of spirit reaching the place John Wesley did in the holies of holiest along with a space for jollification at another forum. However, the higher form of worship (Silence) must precede spirit manifestations through loud praise and adoration. In our society we have become extremist worshipers.20
Some religious cultures like Pentecostals engage in spirit manifestation and loud praise while other like Silent Unit are silent all the time. There is no speaking or word. This is definite extremist behavior. Pentecostal/Charismatic is noise all the time. Researchers have advocated balance which can only be realized through appropriate blending. It can happen because the cry is already out in the ethers in Calvinism trends.21
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- Bryan, Spinks.The Worship Mall: Contemporary Responses to ContemporaryCulture. New York: Church Publishing, Inc., 2010.
- Cynthia,Winton-Henry.Dance – The Sacred Art: The Joy of Movement as aSpiritual Practice. Skylight Paths Publishing, 2009
- Theology of Christian Worship. Journey Through the movement of Worship. Sardis Academy. 2007.
- Stones for Bread. A Critique of Contemporary Worship. Daniel Frankforter, Westminster John Knox Press, 2001
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- Mark, Evans.Open Up the Doors: Music in the Modern Church. London: Equinox Publishing Ltd., 2006
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- Pete, Ward.Selling Worship: How what we sing has changed the church. Authentic Media.
- William Menzies and Robert P. Spirit and Power: Foundations of PentecostalExperience. Zondervan 2000.
- Dan, Kimball. Emerging Worship: Creating Worship Gatherings for NewGenerations, Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2004.
- Guy, Duffield and Van Cleave, Nathaniel. Foundations of Pentecostal Theology. Los Angeles: Foursquare Media, 2008
- Merrick. “Spiritual Healing, Sick Kids and the Law: Inequities in the American Healthcare System”. American Journal of Law & Medicine29 no. 2 (2003): 269–299.
- Kenneth, Stewart. (2008). “The Points of Calvinism: Retrospect and Prospect.” ScottishJournal of Evangelical Theology26 no. (2008): 189–193.
- Warren, Bird , Ed Stetzer, and Towns, Elmer. 11 Innovations in the Local Church. Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 2007
- Alan, Anderson and Whitehouse, Deb. New Thought:A Practical AmericanSpirituality.Unity Village Press. 2003.
- Glenn, Mosley.The History and Future New Thought: Ancient Wisdom of the New Thought Movement, Templeton Foundation Press 2006.
- Richard, Muller.Dictionary of Latin and Greek Theological Terms: DrawnPrincipally from Protestant Scholastic Theology (1st ed.). Baker Book House. 2006.
Anderson, Alan and Deb Whitehouse.New Thought: A Practical American Spirituality. Unity Village Press. 2003.
Bagchi, David V. N.; Steinmetz, David Curtis.The Cambridge Companion to Reformation Theology, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.2004
Bird, Warren, Ed Stetzer, and Elmer Towns.11 Innovations in the Local Church. Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 2007.
Duffield, Guy P. and Nathaniel M. Van Cleave. Foundations of Pentecostal Theology. Los Angeles: Foursquare Media, 2008
Evans, Mark. Open Up the Doors: Music in the Modern Church. London: Equinox Publishing Ltd., 2006
Hart, Ruth. The Seeker Service: A new strategy for evangelism. Reformed Worship. 1992.
Kimball, Dan. Emerging Worship: Creating Worship Gatherings for New Generations, Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2004.
Menzies, William W; Menzies and Robert P.Spirit and Power: Foundations of Pentecostal Experience.Zondervan 2000.
Merrick, Janna. “Spiritual Healing, Sick Kids and the Law: Inequities in the American Healthcare System”.American Journal of Law & Medicine29 no 2 (2003): 269–299.
McNeal, Reggie. Present Future: Six Tough Questions for the Church. Somerset, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2003.
Mosley, Glenn.The History and Future New Thought: Ancient Wisdom of the New Thought Movement, Templeton Foundation Press 2006.
Muller, Richard A.Dictionary of Latin and Greek Theological Terms: Drawn Principally from Protestant Scholastic Theology (1st ed.). Baker Book House. 2006.
Pinson, J. Matthew. Perspectives on Worship: Five Views. Nashville, TN: Broadman and Holman, 2009.
Redman, Robb. The Great Worship Awakening. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2002.
Spinks,Bryan. The Worship Mall: Contemporary Responses to Contemporary Culture. New York: Church Publishing, Inc., 2010
Stones for Bread.A Critique of Contemporary Worship. A. Daniel Frankforter, Westminster John Knox Press, 2001
Stewart, Kenneth J. (2008). “The Points of Calvinism: Retrospect and Prospect.”Scottish Journalof Evangelical Theology26 no. (2008): 189–193.
Theology of Christian Worship.Journey Through the movement of Worship. Sardis Academy. 2007.
Ward, Pete. Selling Worship: How what we sing has changed the church.Authentic Media. 2005.
Winton-Henry, Cynthia. Dance – The Sacred Art: The Joy of Movement as a Spiritual Practice. Skylight Paths Publishing, 2009
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