A Summary of “Genuine Worship”

[If someone finds a digital version of the article (see the bibliography section), please contact me I would love to repost it below with official permission.]


Bibliography (of the original article):

Turabian citation style: Boice, James Montgomery, “Genuine Worship,” Moody 101, no. 5 (May/June 2001): 26.

Website style: James Montgomery Boice, “Genuine Worship” in Moody 101, number 5, May/June 2001, p. 26.

Summary:

In the introductory paragraph, the author of this article gives an interesting example of how contemporary worship services leave out traditional worship elements. He then goes on to explain that you almost don’t encounter true worship anymore, in evangelical churches, according to a definition of John R.W. Stott: “Christians believe that true worship is the highest and noblest activity of which man, by the grace of God, is capable”. James Montgomery offers 3 questions, which might resolve this problem: 1. What is worship? 2. Why do we see so little true worship today? 3. What can be done to recover true worship for our own spiritual health and that of our churches? In the next section he tries to define the word worship. In Shakespearean times we would have used the word “worth-ship” which indicates the worth of important people, like rulers. So, in accordance with this definition, God would have been given “worth-ship” if we assigned to God His true value by glorifying/praising Him. If our worship is not God-centred, it is no worship at all. In the same paragraph, the author also notices that worship changes us. The next paragraph answers the second question: “Why do we see so little true worship today?”. According to the author, the church has gone along with this “trivial” age. We don’t have great theological thinkers in this age. It is also a technological age: we want feel-good entertainment. In the church and outside of the church. We think about ourselves instead of God and so there can be no true worship. Some elements that have become absent are: prayer, the reading of and exposition of the word, confession of sins and hymns. They have been replaced by cheap messages of funny “feel-good” preachers and trivial self-centred, feel-good songs. The author gives us a paragraph, which teaches us that we should look to Jesus, to know what worship is really about. Genuine worship must be of the one true God and no other. We must worship in Spirit (see next paragraph of the article) and in truth (see last paragraph of the article). If we don’t do this, we commit the sin of idolatry. The author claims that worshiping in spirit does means: “worshiping in our spirits” instead of worshiping in the Holy Spirit. He goes on to explain that outward religious, ritual signs are not important and might even hinder the worship in spirit. Neither are emotional feelings important, according to the author. In the next paragraph “What about Music?” the author claims that we must make wise decisions about how we will work with music. The worshipper’s attention should not be turned away from his worship to God. Does our music direct our thoughts to God? Or does it evoke merely an emotional, clap-happy feeling of euphoria? The author argues for the good old hymns which contain much biblical truth instead of our cheap modern-day paragraphs. In the last paragraph, the author explains that worshiping God in truth means that we must worship him in all honesty. Our hearts must be close to God. We must not pretend to worship God. Our hearts are open books before God. We must worship on the basis of biblical revelation (according to the doctrines of the Bible). Jesus must be at the centre of our worship, as we must come to God through Christ only, since He is the only Way to God.

The principle thing I’ve learned:

There is a lot of good things about the worship style of old school churches and a lot of bad things about the worship style of modern-day churches.

Agree or disagree:

I agree with the author on the fact that it is a pity that many modern-day Protestant churches do not have moments for silent contemplative prayer (which one can find in, for example, Anglican churches). I disagree with the idea that worship ‘in Spirit’ does not mean worship in the Holy Spirit but that it means worship in our spirits.

Why it is valuable to me:

This article shows that it is not about experiences or entertainment but about the believer’s heart towards God.

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