Now that I’m almost finished reading (but not cross-referencing – that’s a whole ‘nother animal) Beale’s tome, The Temple and the Church’s Mission, I’ve started reading Block’s For the Glory of God, a biblical theology of worship. I’ll post more about this chunky (381 pgs.) book as time goes on, but for now I’ll leave you with an extended quote from the preface. After reading just this much I’m already excited about this book. Block holds a concern about the biblical form worship that much of the western world needs to hear.
“A number of years ago I preached in a large church with three Sunday morning services. I shall never forget when, at a transitional moment in the service, the ‘pastor of music and worship’ declared to the congregation, ‘Now, before we continue our worship, let me read a passage from Colossians 3’—as if reading and hearing the Scriptures are not exercises in worship.
This restricted notion of worship is common in our day and is reflected in the ubiquitous labeling of CDs as ‘praise and worship’ music, the specification in church bulletins of the singing period as ‘worship time,’ and the identification of musicians on the pastoral staff as ‘worship ministers’ or ‘ministers of worship arts.’ In fact, the worship industry tends to equate worship not only with music but with a particular type of music: contemporary praise.
These practices raise all sorts of questions, not only about the significance of other aspects of the Sunday service (prayer, preaching, testimonials, etc.) but also about religious rituals in the Bible and the Scriptures’ relative minor emphasis on music in worship. Not only is music rarely associated with worship in the New Testament but the Pentateuch is altogether silent on music associated with tabernacle worship. All of this highlights our skewed preoccupation with music in the current conflicts over worship” (xi).
Block then names a handful of issues faced by evangelical churches at the beginning of the twenty-first century, and the problems ran much deeper than differences over musical taste. Those differences were symptoms of a more serious infection.
In a recent book on worship, Edith Humphrey correctly identifies five maladies that plague worship in the North American church: (1) trivializing worship by a preoccupation with atmospherics/mood (it’s all about how worship makes me feel); (2) misdirecting worship by having a human-centered rather than God-centered focus (it’s all about me, the worshiper); (3) deadening worship by substituting stones for bread (the loss of the Word of God); (4) perverting worship with emotional, self-indulgent experiences at the expense of true liturgy; and (5) exploiting worship with market-driven values. After observing trends in worship for a half century, I agree with Humphrey completely” (xii).