Form and Content in the Context of Worship

Carl Trueman has a thought-provoking essay that considers the relationship between form and content in worship services (Look, It’s Rubbish at Reformation 21.org).

If God is awesome, sovereign and holy; if human beings are small, sinful, and lost; if Christ died and rose again by a most miraculous and costly act of grace, then this should impact the way things happen in church.  This is not to argue for a one-size-fits-all-my-way-or-the-highway approach to church.  Context and culture are important; but what is expressed through the idioms of particular cultural manifestations of the church should be awe, reverence, and, above all seriousness – not a colourless and cold miserable seriousness but a fitting amazement at the greatness of God and his grace.

1 thought on “Form and Content in the Context of Worship”

  1. CarlT makes some good points, but i think the whole issue has more to do with whether ‘the KennyG’ is 1) present and 2) in one Spirit with the worshippers (worshippers of the Lord Jesus Christ of course) rather than HOW it sounds. Musically I’d prefer Coltrane, Wes or Dex … over KG, but if it’s pre-recorded and/or I’m not sure of their faith then it doesn’t do it for me. A failing grade on either throws a wet blanket on the whole thing.

    Even JSBach would have had his detractors who just didn’t like his contrapuntally imposed major 7ths and far fetched modulations and would rather hear their old, faithful Buxtehude who sounded so familiar and didn’t ‘jazz’ it up so much. But, JSB was there, that Sunday, doin’ worship, making his musical offereing, in one accord with the fellowship of common believers, and I think that would make it work, at least it for the die-hard Buxtehude fans.

    This past Sunday I played the hymn ‘Holy, Holy, Holy’ in our local PCA church. (Played straight the first time thru then harmonically embellished, but always including the hymn melody on top.) I did a survey afterward, not to find out did they like it, but did they recognize it. No one recognized it, but they did say they liked it and appreciated it. Well, I was there in body and worshipping the one true God, hopefully the offering came across as such.
    And, hey the pastor was there too, real time, not pre-recorded.

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