Friday, February 24, 2012
2. If we, the congregation, can’t sing along, it’s not worship. In other forms of musical performance, musicians and bands will want to improvise and “be creative,” offering new renditions and exhibiting their virtuosity with all sorts of different trills and pauses and improvisations on the received tune. Again, that can be a delightful aspect of a concert, but in Christian worship it just means that we, the congregation, can’t sing along. And so your virtuosity gives rise to our passivity; your creativity simply encourages our silence. And while you may be worshiping with your creativity, the same creativity actually shuts down congregational song.
3. If you, the praise band, are the center of attention, it’s not worship. I know it’s generally not your fault that we’ve put you at the front of the church. And I know you want to model worship for us to imitate. But because we’ve encouraged you to basically import forms of performance from the concert venue into the sanctuary, we might not realize that we’ve also unwittingly encouraged a sense that you are the center of attention. And when your performance becomes a display of your virtuosity–even with the best of intentions–it’s difficult to counter the temptation to make the praise band the focus of our attention. When the praise band goes into long riffs that you might intend as “offerings to God,” we the congregation become utterly passive, and because we’ve adopted habits of relating to music from the Grammys and the concert venue, we unwittingly make you the center of attention. I wonder if there might be some intentional reflection on placement (to the side? leading from behind?) and performance that might help us counter these habits we bring with us to worship.
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Of course, we have a great starting point - the Creeds. In our case (Anglican) we have three creeds to help us - the Apostles, Nicene and Athanasian Creeds. Further the first article in our confessional statement, the Articles of Religion begins with the Holy Trinity.
The Articles say this: "There is one living and true God. His existence is everlasting, without beginning or end. He is the Creator and Preserver of all things whether seen or unseen. In the unity of this one true God there are three Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, who are one in being, power and eternity."
One God and three Persons. There is really no analogy which does justice to this statement. There is no religion which comes close to this understanding of God, and there is no way of discovering this doctrine without its being revealed to us.
My church history teacher made the point that there is no heresy today which is not anticipated by the ancient heresies, which the Creeds have addressed. These heresies concerned the Trinity and the person of Jesus Christ.
A glorious God and a glorious teaching.
Thursday, February 02, 2012
A 19th-century American joke about the woman who, when asked what she thought of the doctrine of total depravity, replied that it was a very good doctrine if people would only live up to it.
It doesn’t go without saying that we are sinners, under God’s condemnation and in need of his forgiveness.
The same God who commands that the good news of salvation be shouted with a loud voice from the top of a mountain (Isa 40.9) also commands that the bad news of his people’s sins be preached and preached out loud with a voice ‘like a trumpet’ (Isa 58.1)
1. Depravity and watchfulness:
Reign of sin is broken, nevertheless we are utterly dependent upon God for both our fotgiveness and our sanctification.
In the Lord's Prayer we
In the Lord's Prayer weask for forgiveness every day.
And even though we have ‘crucified the flesh with its passions and desires (Gal 5.24) there remains for us the urgent, ongoing command to ‘put to death therefore what is earthly in you.” (
We too are but dust (Psalm 103.14). We are by nature companions in a miserable, helpless condition;
3. Depravity and culture
Fallen culture is capable of great works – of beauty, truth and wisdom, it does remind us that on all these works of human hands – even the most magnificent – there will be the stains and smudges of human sin.
4. Depravity and Evangelism
All conversion is a miracle. John 3.1-8 – plus against distortion of message – 2 Cor 4.2-6
Depravity and doxology
Humbling doctrine. That our salvation depends on grace, not works.